The Arrest Process

The Arrest Process: A Chronology


When the police make an arrest, it will follow a specific series of events. The police must comply with legal procedures during the legal process of arrest, and many other stages along the way, to finally put a suspect in prison.

An arrest occurs when the police takes you into custody and is complete when you, the suspect, the suspect is no longer free to walk away from the officer to arrest him.

In 1966, the Supreme Court of the united States stated in the case Miranda c/ Arizona that people under arrest for suspicion of having committed a crime have certain rights that must be explained to them before proceeding with the interrogation. The rights are designed to protect your right not to incriminate itself under the fifth amendment of the Constitution of the united States. There are five different rights, known as the “Miranda Rights”:

  • You have the right to remain silent and to refuse to answer questions.
  • Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law.
  • Has the right to consult an attorney before speaking with the police and to have an attorney present during interrogation or later.
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint one for you before questioning if you wish.
  • If you decide to answer questions without a lawyer present, you will have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk with an attorney.

Note: The Miranda rights must only be read to a person who is in police custody and under interrogation. Therefore, if the police stop you to ask you a traffic ticket and you start to explain why I was going at high speed, later can not claim that we will not read the Miranda rights. While the police may have been “interrogated” in a certain sense, you were not in police custody.

If stopped by the police, you can inspect it when you perform a “pat down” search of your clothing outside to determine if you have a concealed weapon. Then, after arrest, the police may conduct a full inspection of your person and immediate surroundings to make sure that you do not have a weapon, stolen items, contraband, or evidence of a crime. If the police take possession of your car, you can also inspect it.

In many jurisdictions, have the right to make one or several phone calls once in custody. In some states, are only permitted to call someone in order to secure a lawyer or to coordinate payment of the security deposit, if you could call a family member or friend to help you with these formalities. Generally, you do not have the right to call on the phone until you have taken the fingerprints.

The police may take any personal property or money you have with you and place it in a safe place after making an inventory. The police will be asked to sign the inventory and, after reading it, you should sign if you agree to the contents of the inventory.

Once arrested, you must take the fingerprints. During the procedure of taking of fingerprints, the police will be asked basic information about you (such as your address and date of birth), will take the fingerprints and a photograph. They may also ask you to participate in a wheel of suspects, that provide a sample of his handwriting or similar things.

If you get arrested but not fingerprinted within a reasonable period of time (usually several hours or overnight), your attorney can go before a judge and obtain a writ of habeas corpus. A writ of habeas corpus is an order issued by the court that tells police to bring it before the court so that a judge can decide if you are stopping in a legal way.

Once arrested by the police, the information will be provided to the office of the prosecutor as appropriate. The prosecutor will review the information before making an independent decision on what charges should be filed.

Note: If you have been arrested for a felony, a prosecutor may request the services of a grand jury to review the available information to determine what crimes should be charged really.

If they are put under custody, has the right to a “trial fast”, which usually means that the prosecutor must decide within 72 hours what charges to make (if it will). A prosecutor is not bound to the initial decision on the fee, but you can change the offenses for which he will acknowledge once you get more tests.

Note: The time required in which the prosecutor must make a decision on the charges varies depending on the jurisdiction. Although many state laws require that the decision is taken within 72 hours, other states (such as California) require that the decision is taken within 48 hours after being taken into custody.

Appearing in court for the arraignment, when you will read the charges against you and be asked whether he pleads guilty or not guilty.

Note: A third type of possible response to an indictment is that of “nolo contendere”, or “no answer”. Nolo contendere is not strictly a statement, but it means that you do not answer to the charges brought by the government. The plea of nolo contendere cannot be used in other aspects of the criminal trial, such as the admission of guilt, it can only be used at the stage of formal accusation as a confession implied of the specific crime of which he is accused, and an admission of the facts stated in the indictment. A plea of nolo contendere shall only be accepted by a judge if he considers that it is made voluntarily and intelligently.

If you are going to jail, you could have the option of leaving before the trial if they “paid the bail”. The bond is money you pay to the court to ensure that they will stand before the court when required to do so. If you fail to appear as required, will be refunded the deposit. If you fail to appear, the court keeps the money and can issue a warrant for your arrest.

  • The bond can be paid in cash or an equivalent. You can also, depending on the circumstances, to deposit a surety bond. A surety bond is a guarantee of payment of the full amount of the bail if the need arises. In other situations, they can “release it under the word”. This means that omitted the payment of the deposit under the condition that you appear in court when required to do so. This is generally used only in minor offences or when the judge believes that you are a trust worthy person and that it is unlikely that escape from the jurisdiction.
  • Not all those arrested have the right to bail. In crimes particularly heinous, or when there is a risk that the defendant to escape the jurisdiction or harm to members of the public, you can refuse the bail and the defendant will remain in “detention”. They can also give you “detention” if you can’t pay the bond for his release.
  • The judge is responsible for setting your bail. In many jurisdictions, there is a predefined list of bail amounts for certain crimes. In other cases, bail may be determined on a case by case basis. The eighth amendment of the U.s. Constitution requires that bail not be excessive.
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