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What You Should and Should Not Do When Arrested

Wiberg Law Office, PLLC
Handcuffed arrested man behind prison bars

The sudden reality of being arrested can be a disorienting experience for anyone. It's a situation where actions—or inactions—have significant and immediate consequences. Whether you're a first-time defendant, someone seeking legal advice, or charged with a serious crime, knowing the right steps to take can be the difference between a positive outcome and a legal nightmare.  

At Wiberg Law Office, PLLC, Attorneys Wiberg and Stone can arm you with the fundamental knowledge you need to maneuver through these critical moments if you find yourself under arrest. They have the experience and resources necessary to provide reliable representation and fight for your rights.  

What to Do When Arrested 

Knowing what to do when you are arrested is essential when protecting your rights and securing a solid defense. Here are a few tips to help:  

  • Keep Your Composure and Protect Your Dignity: From the moment you're placed in handcuffs, it's critical to act calmly and composed. No outburst, no matter how justified it may seem, can improve your situation. Such reactions often give law enforcement a legal foothold, however slight, to bolster the charges against you. Remember, officers are trained to handle belligerent behavior, but your conduct will reflect in reports and testimonies that influence the judicial process. 

  • The Power of Silence: This portion of the Miranda rights reflects one of the most potent tools in your legal repertoire. By invoking your right to silence, you're preventing potentially incriminating statements from being used against you. It does not imply guilt; it's a strategic and constitutional defense move. The adage "anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law" is not hyperbole; it's a potent advisement to heed. 

  • Demand Your Right to Legal Representation: The right to an attorney is a fundamental component of your defense when under arrest. A capable attorney is your advocate, strategist, and interpreter of the complex criminal justice system. Even if you think you can explain or negotiate your way out of the situation, declining legal representation is almost universally seen as a misstep. 

  • Compliance Without Compromise of Your Rights: Complying with the police to the extent that is required by law can facilitate a smoother process, hastening the provision of legal representation and bail. However, knowledge of your rights is paramount. If an officer's instruction is questionable or seems to infringe upon your rights, do not resist; instead, silently take note of the incident for your legal counsel. 

What Not to Do When Arrested 

Again, understanding what not to do after an arrest can be extremely beneficial to your case. It is not advised to:  

  • Resist Arrest or Be Argumentative: Resisting arrest is, first and foremost, dangerous. The situation can escalate rapidly, leading to potential injury or more severe charges. Refrain from any physical resistance or attempts to flee, no matter how erroneous you believe the situation to be. Once the arrest is in motion, cooperation, not combativeness, is the wisest course of action, as long as you politely refuse to answer questions (other than booking questions).

  • Discuss Your Case: Once in custody, it is strategically wise to limit your interactions to the necessary formalities and the requests for legal representation. Conversing with authorities about the merits of your case or attempting to provide explanations could inadvertently bolster the prosecution's case. It's crucial to remember that law enforcement's goal is to close their case, not necessarily find truth or absolution for the accused.  

  • Make Deals and Statements: Your primary objective after being arrested is to secure legal representation. Choosing to make statements or deals without consulting a lawyer can have dire consequences. It's a perilous path to volunteer information that can be, misquoted, misconstrued, or used against you. Resist the urge to speed up the process through compromise; it's often a false avenue to resolution and weakens your legal footing. 

  • Post on Social Media: In the age of digital footprints, anything you say or share online can and will be used against you in court. Avoid the temptation to post about your arrest or case on social media. Such actions can complicate your defense by presenting statements out of context or making it seem as though you're not taking the situation seriously. 

Misdemeanor and Felony Charges 

The state of New Hampshire's penalties for misdemeanors and felonies range from fines and community service to life imprisonment or death for the most severe cases. It's essential to understand the range of possible consequences for your charges and what factors may come into play regarding your sentencing, should your case advance to trial. Your attorney is your interpreter of the legal system; lean on that expertise. 

Whether it's facing a misdemeanor or a felony charge, the gravity of your situation is not to be underestimated. Understanding the process isn't merely informative; it's empowering.

By fostering this comprehension, you're better equipped to make educated decisions and to assert your rights, and protect your well-being.  

Understanding the Miranda Rights 

The "Miranda rights" are constitutional guarantees that protect individuals from unwittingly self-incriminating during police interrogations. Understanding these rights is paramount to safeguarding your legal standing: 

  1. You have the right to remain silent. 

  1. Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law. 

  1. You have the right to an attorney. 

  1. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. 

These rights only come into effect during "custodial interrogation," where a person is either under arrest or not free to leave and is being questioned. By invoking these rights, you ensure any statements you make are done so with legal counsel present.  

The Realities of Custody and Interrogation 

Custody and interrogation demand awareness of your rights. The distinctions that determine your legal standing in these situations are subtle but significant. Understanding when Miranda rights come into play will help protect you from inadvertently admitting to something you didn't do or saying something that could be misconstrued. 

Your Right to an Attorney 

One of the Miranda rights is the right to an attorney, but what does that entail? Understanding the nature of this right—how it can be invoked, when it applies, and what it means for your case—is critical. An attorney is not just a formality; they act as your ally in the legal arena, ensuring that your rights and entitlements are upheld. They decipher the legalese that might prevent your understanding of the case and strategize to offer you the best representation. 

Take Legal Action Today 

If you or someone you know is facing the tumultuous wake of an arrest, now is the time to act thoughtfully and decisively. Seek legal counsel, understand your rights, and allow those with expertise to help guide your actions.  

Attorneys Wiberg and Stone have the strategic legal knowledge and experience to craft a solid defense on your behalf. Don't face legal challenges alone, contact the Wiberg Law Office, PLLC, to schedule a consultation today. The firm proudly serves clients in Portsmouth and throughout the surrounding areas of Rockingham County, Strafford County, Hillsborough, Dover, and Manchester, New Hampshire.