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What to do when you are arrested?

Dealing with an arrest can be a stressful and challenging situation. It’s essential to handle it calmly and responsibly to ensure your rights are protected and the situation is resolved as smoothly as possible. Here are 20 detailed steps to consider if you find yourself under arrest:


Dealing with an arrest is a situation that can evoke a range of emotions, from anxiety to confusion. Navigating the complexities of the legal system while protecting your rights requires careful consideration and informed actions. This guide provides comprehensive steps to follow if you find yourself facing arrest. By understanding your rights, remaining composed, and seeking legal counsel, you can approach the situation with confidence and ensure the best possible outcome.

1. Stay Calm:
When you’re faced with an arrest, it’s natural to feel a surge of emotions, including fear, anger, and confusion. However, it’s crucial to keep your composure. Avoid shouting, becoming confrontational, or making sudden movements that might raise suspicions or cause the situation to escalate. Staying calm can help de-escalate the encounter and make the process smoother for both you and the law enforcement officers.

2. Know Your Rights:
Your Miranda rights, which include the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney, are designed to protect your interests during interactions with law enforcement. These rights apply once you are in custody or are under interrogation. Be aware that anything you say can be used against you in court, so it’s generally advised to exercise your right to remain silent until you’ve consulted with an attorney.

3. Cooperate without Self-Incrimination:
While you should provide basic identification information, avoid discussing the details of the incident without your attorney present. Politely inform the officers that you are invoking your right to remain silent until you’ve had a chance to speak with your lawyer. This approach helps prevent inadvertently saying something that could be used against you later in court.

4. Ask for an Attorney:
The moment you’re placed under arrest, respectfully request to speak to an attorney. This is your constitutional right, and law enforcement officers should provide you with the means to contact one. Remember, having an attorney present during questioning can help safeguard your interests and ensure that you don’t provide statements that could be misinterpreted or used against you.

5. Avoid Providing Consent:
In most cases, law enforcement needs a warrant to search your person, property, or vehicle. Politely decline any searches if officers do not have a warrant. However, keep in mind that officers may conduct a search without a warrant if they have probable cause. Your attorney can help determine if the search was legal and advise you accordingly.

6. Stay Silent:
Upon arrest, you have the right to remain silent. This means you are not obligated to answer any questions posed by law enforcement, especially those that may incriminate you. While it might be tempting to explain your side of the story, it’s usually wiser to wait until you’ve consulted your attorney and can provide a well-considered response.

7. Stay Observant:
Take note of the officers’ badge numbers, names, and patrol car information. This information could be useful later if you need to file a complaint or provide specific details about the arrest.

8. Do Not Resist Arrest:
Resisting arrest can lead to additional charges, such as resisting an officer or assault, which could have serious legal consequences. Even if you believe the arrest is unjust or unwarranted, it’s essential to follow officers’ instructions calmly to avoid any escalation of the situation.

9. Be Mindful of Your Behavior:
Throughout the arrest process, maintain respectful behavior towards the officers and anyone else present. Avoid using offensive language, making threats, or displaying aggressive body language. Your demeanor can influence how the situation unfolds and how officers treat you.

10. Don’t Volunteer Information:
While it’s crucial to provide accurate identification information, avoid volunteering any additional details about the incident without consulting your attorney first. Anything you say can be used against you, so it’s best to wait until you have proper legal guidance.

11. Keep Track of Time:
Remember the time when you were arrested and any significant events that occur afterward. This information might be important for building a timeline of events, especially if there are discrepancies later.

12. Contact Someone:
Once you’re able to make a call, reach out to a friend, family member, or attorney to inform them of your situation. Provide them with essential details, such as your location and the nature of the charges. Ask them to help you find legal representation if you don’t have an attorney already.

13. Understand the Charges:
When informed of the charges against you, make sure you fully understand them. If the charges seem unclear, ask the officers or staff for clarification. Understanding the charges is crucial for your defense and cooperation during the legal process.

14. Follow Booking Procedures:
During the booking process, law enforcement will take your fingerprints, photographs, and other personal information. This process is routine and helps establish your identity in the criminal justice system. Cooperate during this process to avoid unnecessary complications.

15. Bail and Bond:
Depending on the nature of the charges and your criminal history, you may have the option to post bail or bond to secure your release from custody while your case is pending. Bail is a set amount of money paid to the court as insurance that you’ll attend future court dates. Bond is typically a percentage of the bail amount paid to a bondsman, who then posts bail on your behalf.

16. Invoke Your Right to Remain Silent:
Throughout your time in custody, you have the right to decline answering questions, even during interrogations. Law enforcement might try to elicit information that could be used against you, so it’s wise to consistently invoke your right to remain silent until you’ve consulted your attorney.

17. Document the Arrest:
If possible, write down your version of the events leading up to your arrest while they are fresh in your memory. Include details like the time, location, and the actions of the officers. These notes could become valuable later for building your defense strategy.

18. Gather Evidence:
If there were any witnesses to the incident or the arrest, try to obtain their contact information. Witnesses might be able to corroborate your side of the story, which could be crucial for your defense.

19. Inform Your Attorney:
Once you’ve secured legal representation, provide your attorney with all the details related to your arrest and the incident. Share any notes, evidence, or witness information you’ve gathered. The more information your attorney has, the better they can strategize your defense.

20. Attend Legal Proceedings:
Stay informed about court dates, hearings, and any other legal proceedings related to your case. Failure to attend court as required can result in additional legal complications, including warrants for your arrest. Comply with court orders and follow the advice of your attorney to navigate the legal process effectively.

Remember, the information provided is intended to be general guidance and is not a substitute for legal advice. Consulting with an attorney who specializes in criminal defense is crucial for tailored advice based on your specific situation.


Being arrested is undoubtedly a distressing experience, but how you handle the situation can significantly impact the trajectory of your case. By staying calm, knowing your rights, and collaborating with legal professionals, you can safeguard your interests throughout the arrest process. Remember, seeking the guidance of an experienced attorney is essential for tailoring your approach to the specific circumstances of your case. By following these steps, you empower yourself to face the challenges of an arrest with a sense of control and a commitment to upholding your rights.

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