Some police have a common saying when they are putting someone in handcuffs and placing them (sometimes not so gently) in the back of their cruiser: "You may beat the rap, but you can't beat the ride."
It had been a long time since I had heard that statement when a colleague of mine reminded me of it the other day. We were discussing one of his more colorful clients who was in the process of being arrested and was not going to go down quietly. This future-defendant felt as if he was being wrongly arrested and was going to let everyone know about how this officer wouldn't know probable cause if it slapped him across the face.
In the process, he lost sight of the fact that no matter what he said, he was still going downtown. He was still going to spend the night in jail, and no amount of pleading his case was going to help in that particular moment. In fact, it was going to hurt.
And it was for this very fact that it is important to know what you should and shouldn't do when you have found yourself staring down the barrel of an arrest. The following is a not-so-exhaustive list of things to remember if you or a loved one find yourself in this position of not being able to beat the ride downtown.
1) DON'T Resist. Do not tug, pull away, tighten up, fall to the ground screaming, kick or spit on the cop, run, etc. If you do these things, your circumstance just got a lot worse that it was. You could be charged with Resisting with or Without Violence, Battery on Law Enforcement Officer, Fleeing, or Escape. I once had a client who was being pulled over but was driving on a suspended license and had some pot in the car. He refused to stop and led the cops on a high speed chase. Then when he got caught he proceed to batter and assault the officers. Had he not resisted, the worse he was looking at was two misdemeanors. Instead he ended up facing five felonies and two misdemeanors.
2) DO take full advantage of your right to remain silent. Believe it or not, the police do not have to read you Miranda rights in every circumstance. Just because you don't hear those words "You have the right to remain silent..." does not mean that you should continue to talk. Be quiet. Stay quiet. Be polite, but shut up. In fact, you never have to talk to the police if you don't want to. If you are paying any sort of attention, you can tell by what the police are saying to you whether or not you are a suspect. Use your common sense and just be quiet.
3) DON'T consent to a search of anything. Simply say "no sir/ma'am" if asked if you consent to a search. That includes telling them no if they ask to search your home, car, pockets, jacket, anything. Make them go through the proper channels to get the evidence they are looking for. Don't waive your right to be free from illegal search and seizure of your property.
4) DO ask friends/family/bystanders/witnesses to arrest to be respectful and to contact an attorney on your behalf. If you are arrested, you will be brought before a judge within 24 hours for that judge to determine for himself whether the police officer had enough probable cause to arrest you. If your friends contact an attorney right away, then that attorney can show up in court the next day and argue that there was no probable cause for the arrest and that you should be released. If the judge doesn't buy the attorney's "no probable cause" theory, then that attorney should argue that you have no or minimal prior record, you are not a threat to abscond, that you have close ties to the community, and that your bond should be set as low as possible.
5) DON'T talk about the facts of your case on the jail calls. Once booked in, you will probably be allowed to make some phone calls. Do not talk about your case on these calls because they are recorded and they will be used against you. Only talk about how your friends and family are going to get you out of jail.
6) DO contact a bondsman. A bondsman will post a bond on your behalf to get you out of jail if you are able to give him a little money upfront; usually this amount is 10% of the total bond. Therefore, if your bond is set at $1000, then if you give him $100, he'll probably spring you.
7) DON'T believe the police officer. They can and will tell you almost anything to get you to admit to doing something. Be wary of their promises to "put in a good word with the prosecutor;" it most likely won't happen. It is a way to get you to talk, and we already covered that in "Do #2."
8) DO contact James at Haslett Law, P.A. right away to discuss your legal options and rights. Free consultations are provided simply by calling. We will accept collect jail calls as well.