After the Arrest
ROLE OF LOS ANGELES CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEYS AFTER YOUR ARREST
As part of our commitment to excellence, as aggressive criminal defense attorneys, we pride ourselves with educating and counseling our clients in their time of need. There are a few important things you need to know.
1. Do not discuss your case with anyone other than your criminal defense lawyer. Not even your friends, family, members, or cellmates. What you say can be used against you.
2. Do not call or make any contact with any law enforcement agency, District Attorney, or City Attorney without first consulting with your Criminal Defense Attorney.
3. Immediately identify and locate any potential witnesses that may have any information that will help your criminal defense lawyer.
4. If contacted by any law enforcement investigation, immediately and politely refuse to answer any questions without your criminal defense lawyer present.
5. Never consent to any search or turn over anything to law enforcement without consulting with your criminal defense lawyer first.
6. Everything you tell your criminal defense lawyer is confidential and will not be used against you. Be truthful and communicate thoroughly with your criminal defense lawyer.
When you are arrested, you are taken into custody. This means that you are not free to leave the scene. Even without being arrested, you can be detained or held for questioning for a short time if a police officer or other person believes you may be involved in a crime. For example, an officer may detain you if you are carrying a large box near a burglary site. You can also be detained by storekeepers if they suspect you have stolen something. Whether you are arrested or detained, you do not have to answer any questions except to give your name and address and show some identification if requested.
WHAT RIGHTS DO I HAVE AFTER AN ARREST?
Whether you are an adult citizen or non-citizen, you have certain rights if you are arrested. Before the law enforcement officer questions you, he or she should tell you that:
- You have the right to remain silent.
- Anything you say may be used against you.
- You have the right to have a lawyer present while you are questioned.
- If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you.
These are your “Miranda Rights”, guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. If you are not given these warnings, and you are in custody, your San Fernando criminal attorney or Van Nuys criminal attorney can ask that any statements you made to the police not be used against you in court. However, this does not necessarily mean that your case will be dismissed and does not apply if you volunteer information without being questioned by the police.
ONCE I AM TOLD MY RIGHTS, CAN I BE QUESTIONED?
You can be questioned, without a lawyer present, only if you voluntarily give up your rights and if you understand what you are giving up. If you agree to the questioning, then change your mind, questioning must stop as soon as you say that you want a defense lawyer. If the questioning continues after you request a lawyer and you continue to talk, your answers can be used against you if you testify to something different.
You may be required to give certain physical evidence. For example, if you are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol you may be requested to take a test to measure the amount of alcohol in your system. If you refuse to take the test, your driver’s license will be suspended and the refusal will be used against you in court.
Once you are booked, meaning your arrest is written into official police records and you are fingerprinted and photographed, you have a right to make and complete three toll-free, local telephone calls.
WHEN SHOULD I SEE A CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER?
If you are arrested for a crime, particularly a serious one, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. He or she has a better sense of what you should and should not say to law enforcement officers in order to avoid being misinterpreted or misunderstood. The criminal defense attorney also can advise you, your family, and/or friends on the bail process.
WHO CAN ARREST ME?
All law enforcement officers – such as police officers, county sheriff officers, investigators in a district attorney’s or an attorney general’s offices and highway patrol officers – can arrest you whether they are on or off duty; in most cases. A probation or parole officer also can arrest you.
You can be arrested, even if the law enforcement officers do not have an arrest warrant, so long as they maintain probably cause or good reason to believe you committed a felony, such as armed robbery. (A felony is a crime, more serious in nature than a misdemeanor, usually punishable by imprisonment for more than one year.) They do not have to see you commit a felony in order to arrest you. They do, however, have to see you commit a misdemeanor in order to arrest you.
If you commit an infraction, instead of taking you into custody, they may ask to sign a citation or notice. This is a minor offense, such as a moving violation, where the punishment usually is a fine. If you sign the citation, you are not admitting guilt; you are only promising to appear in court. If you have no identification or refuse to sign, however, an officer may take you into custody.
CAN SOMEONE OTHER THAN A POLICE OFFICER ARREST ME?
Any person, such as a private security guard, can make a citizen’s arrest if they see an individual attempt to, or actually commit a misdemeanor. (A misdemeanor is a criminal offense, usually punishable with a fine or short jail term.) A person can make a legal arrest for a felony as long as it actually was committed and he/she has good reason to believe that you are involved. This person must then take you to a police officer or judge who is authorized by law to take you into custody.
WHEN IS AN ARREST WARRANT USED?
Usually a warrant is required before you can be taken into custody from your home. You can however be arrested in your home even without a warrant, if fast action is needed to prevent you from escaping, destroying evidence, endangering someone’s life or seriously damaging property.
The warrant must be signed by a magistrate or judge, who must have good reason to believe that you, whom the warrant specifically names, committed a crime. If your legal name is unknown, “John Doe” can be used on the warrant in addition to your physical description.
Once an arrest warrant is issued, any law enforcement officer in the state can arrest you, even if the officer does not have a copy of the warrant. Generally, there is no time limit on using a warrant to make an arrest.
Before entering your home, a law enforcement officer must knock, identify himself or herself, and state the name of the individual who is to be arrested. If you refuse to open the door, or if there is another good reason, the officer can break into the residence through a door or window.
If the police have an arrest warrant, you should be allowed to see it. If they do not actually have the warrant with them, you should be allowed to see it as soon as it is physically possible.
The police may search the area within your reach. If you are arrested outdoors, they may not search you home or car.
Resisting an arrest or detention is a crime. If you resist arrest, not only can you be charged with a misdemeanor or felony in addition to the crime for which you are being arrested, but an officer can furthermore use force to overcome your resistance and/or prevent your escape. An officer can even use deadly force if it appears you are capable of using force that can cause great bodily injury.
WHEN CAN I BE RELEASED?
If, during the questioning and before a charge is filed, the police are convinced that you have not committed a crime, they will give you a written release. Your arrest will then will be considered a detention and not recorded as an arrest.
WHAT IS BAIL AND HOW IS IT SET?
The amount of bail, money, or other security deposited with the court to ensure that you will appear, is set by a predetermined schedule for each county. Upon the receipt of a traffic citation, you may be notified that you can forfeit or give up bail instead of appearing in court. Bail forfeiture does not apply to misdemeanors or felonies. Forfeiting bail does not mean that the charges are dropped and usually works as a conviction for a traffic offense. However, if you have any doubt, it may be best to go to court in order to prevent the issuance of a bench warrant for failing to appear.
Officers at the jail may be able to accept bail. If you are unable to post or put up the bail, you will be held in custody. Depending upon where you are arrested, you may have the opportunity to request a bail reduction through a bail commissioner.
When you are taken to court for bail setting or release, the judge will take into consideration such things as the seriousness of the offense for which you are being charged, any prior failures to appear (even for traffic tickets), any prior convictions, and your connections to the community, in order to calculate the probability that you will appear in court. The amount of bail is set according to a written schedule based upon your specific criminal charges. The law presumes you are guilty of the charges for purposes of setting bail or release.
Instead of paying bail, you might be released on your own recognizance “O.R.” (or “Supervised O.R.”). Under these circumstances, you do not have to pay a bail amount because the judge believes you will show up for your scheduled court appearances.
WHO MAINTAINS ARREST RECORDS AND WHAT DO THEY INCLUDE?
Local Los Angeles police departments and the California State Department of Justice keep arrest records. According to the law, these records are confidential and can only be viewed by law enforcement officers. Records of your convictions however, can be released to certain licensing agencies who have a right by California state law to investigate your criminal background.
The arrest record includes information regarding when and why you were arrested, whether the charges against you were dropped or whether you were convicted of the charges, and the subsequent sentence imposed. Both pleading guilty and being found guilty after a trial count as convictions.
If you are convicted of committing a misdemeanor, placed on probation and stay out of trouble, you are able to have the conviction removed from your record for such purposes as employment background checks. If you are convicted of certain felonies and you successfully complete probation, you can have the felony reduced to a misdemeanor on your record. You must contact the probation officer in either instance to clear your record.
WHAT HAPPENS AT AN ARRAIGNMENT?
You have a right to be arraigned without unnecessary delay; usually within two court days of being arrested. At your arraignment, you will appear before a municipal (city region e.g. Los Angeles, Woodland Hills, Van Nuys or Burbank) or a justice court judge who will officially state the criminal charges against you. During this time, an attorney may be appointed to you if you cannot afford to retain one. Also, your bail may be raised, lowered or you can request to be released on O.R.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you may submit a guilty or not guilty plea at the arraignment. Upon the approval of the court, you can plead nolo contendere, meaning that you will not contest to the charges. Although legally this is the equivalent of a guilty plea, it cannot be used against you in a non-criminal case unless the charge can be punished as a felony.
Before pleading guilty to a first-time offense, such as drug use or possession in small amounts for personal use, you may want to find out if your county, such as Los Angeles county, has any drug diversion programs. If you are ordered into one of these programs, the court may refrain from fining you or sending you to jail and instead will order you to complete a specific amount of counseling, which may ultimately result in the dismissal of your original criminal charge.
If misdemeanor charges are not dropped at the arraignment, a trial will be held in municipal court. If you are being charged with a felony, however, and the charges are not dropped, the next step is a preliminary hearing.
WHAT HAPPENS AT A PRELIMINARY HEARING?
During the preliminary hearing, usually held within 10 court days of the arraignment, the district attorney’s office will present evidence supporting a reasonable suspicion that you were involved in the commission of a felony, in order to convince the judge that you should be brought to trial.
You may have a second arraignment. If the felony charges are not dropped at the preliminary hearing, you will be arraigned in superior court where your trial later will be held.
If you are charged with a crime and are unable to understand English, you have The right to have an interpreter present throughout the proceedings.
WHEN CAN AN OFFICER CONDUCT A SEARCH?
An officer may only conduct a search if he/she has obtained either your consent or a search warrant. You have the right to see the warrant prior to an officer commencing a search.
WHEN CAN AN OFFICER SEARCH YOU, YOUR HOME OR YOUR CAR WITHOUT A WARRANT?
Body Searches. If you are arrested, an officer can search you, without a warrant, for weapons, evidence, illegal or stolen goods. Strip searches should not be conducted for offenses that do not involve weapons, drugs or violence unless the police have reason to suspect that you are concealing a weapon or illegal goods. An officer must obtain authorization from the supervising officer on duty prior to conducting a strip search. If you are booked and jailed, you may undergo a full body search, including body cavities.
Home Searches. In emergencies, such as when an officer may be trying to prevent someone from destroying evidence, your home can be searched without your consent and without a warrant. If you are taken into custody while in your home, an officer can search without a warrant within the limited area surrounding the place from which you are arrested. Additional rooms, and even other parts of the same room are off limits, unless the officer believes that there may be suspects hiding within your residence. While searching your home, an officer can seize evidence associated with any type of criminal activity, such as stolen property or drugs, that is clearly in plain sight.
Car Searches. Your car and trunk can be searched without your consent or a warrant if an officer has good reason to believe that they may contain illegal or stolen goods or evidence. If the police stop your car for any legal reason, such as a broken tail light, they can seize any illegal goods that stand in plain sight.
If you, your home or your car are searched illegally, a judge may rule that any evidence found during the search cannot be used against you in court. However, If you or your criminal defense lawyer do not object to the use of this evidence prior to the beginning of your trial, the court may allow the evidence to be used. Even if the judge does decide that the evidence cannot be used against you, that does not always mean that your case will be dismissed.
The purpose of this section is to provide general information on the law, which is subject to change.
Whether you are looking for a Burbank Criminal Lawyer, Glendale Criminal Attorney, San Fernando Criminal Lawyer, Van Nuys Criminal Attorney or an attorney in other parts of Los Angeles, Schwartz & Weinrieb is ready to aggressively defend your charges.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a criminal offense, contact a criminal defense attorney from Schwartz & Weinrieb today at (310) 246-9550.