Top 10 Things To NOT Do If You Are Arrested

This post is excerpted from a post by attorney Justin McShane, of The McShane Law Firm. Attorney McShane was co-author of the 1st version of the book “Pennsylvania Gun Law – Armed And Educated”. Disclaimer: I am not an attorney. Nothing in this content constitutes legal advice. If you are in need of legal advice on this matter, retain a licensed, competent attorney in your relevant jurisdiction.

1. Don’t Talk

Do not say a word to the officer. You have a right to remain silent – take advantage of it. The Fifth Amendment gives you the right to SHUT UP, so do so! I cannot stress to you the importance of this rule. Do not talk! Do not attempt to convince the officer of your innocence. Everyone is innocent, no one should be arrested and no one should be in jail and that is all the officer hears all day every day. He/she does not care generally whether you are innocent or guilty and there is nothing that he/she can do at this point. Most times, when people speak to officers they say something that makes their situation far worse. Keep your mouth shut; there will be plenty of time to talk later.

2. Don’t Run

I said above to listen to the officer and follow his/her instructions. If you run, the police can add additional charges such as fleeing and attempting to elude (if in a car) or resisting arrest or escape, if not. But if the case goes to trial, then the Government may be able to get a special Jury instruction which would be read to the Jury called “consciousness of guilt” whereby the Jury is told basically “guilty people run, innocent people don’t”. Also, police become highly suspicious that someone running has a weapon and may be quick to draw their weapon.

3. Never Resist Arrest

Perhaps the most important thing not to do is touch the police officer at all! Follow what the officer says. Fight your case, not the officer. You will lose a fight against an officer. Many people attempt to bump the officer or swat an officer’s hands away. This often becomes over-reported by the officer and the swatting becomes hitting which falls under the assault statutes and now a minor misdemeanor arrest becomes a FELONY.

4. Don’t Believe the Police – They LIE

It is perfectly legal for the police to lie to get you to make an admission. In fact they are trained to lie to you to get the confession. It is called the Reid Technique where you lie about having witnesses or video tape or fingerprints or DNA. The police frequently separate two friends and tell one the other one “ratted” him/her out (i.e., told on you). Because of the lie, the other friend now rats the first friend out. Police and detectives also state that “it will be easier” to talk now…LIES!!! DON’T BELIEVE THE LIES! It will only be easier for the police to prove their case!

5. No Searching

Do not allow the police to search anywhere! If the police officer asks, they do not have the right to search and must have your consent. If you are asked make sure you proclaim to any witnesses that “You (the police) do not have consent to search.” If they perform the search anyway, that evidence may be thrown out later. Also, if you consent to a search, the officers may find something that you had no idea you or someone else had placed there, i.e., marijuana left by a friend. The 4th Amendment gives you the right to no unreasonable search and seizures. If the police want to search your home or car, have your attorney tell them to get a search warrant.

6. Don’t Look At Places Where You Don’t Want Police to Search

Police are trained to watch you and react to you. They know that you are nervous and scared and many people look to the areas that they don’t want the police to search. Do not react to the search and do not answer any questions. LOOK DOWN AND KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT!!!

7. Do Not Talk Smack to the Police

I don’t care if you have been wrongly arrested and the true culprit is standing in front of you. Don’t talk smack! Police hear all day that my dad is the Governor’s Assistant’s Intern and I will have your badge for this! Cops have a lot of discretion in the upcoming charges brought and how it all develops in the system. Police can add charges, change a misdemeanor to a felony, and will even talk to the prosecutor that is ultimately prosecuting you.

8. If Police Come to Your Home, Do not Let Them In and Do Not Step Outside Your Home

If the police are confident you have committed a felony, they are coming in anyway, because they generally don’t need an arrest warrant. Make it clear to the police by stating: “No you may not come in”, or “I am comfortable talking right here”, or “You need a search warrant to enter my home.” If they return, your attorney can arrange for you to turn yourself in should that be necessary and you will spend no time in jail between the hearings.

9. If You Are Outside Your Home and Arrested, Do Not Accept an Offer to Go Back In Your Home for Anything

The officer may say to you, how about you go inside and change, freshen up, talk to your wife, husband, get a jacket, or provide you with any other reason. The police will graciously escort you in and then tear your home apart searching through it. Also, do not let them secure your car. Your car is fine. Remember they are lying to you. They don’t give two hoots if you are really cold or if you need to talk to your wife or husband.

10. Don’t say a word

It’s incredible how many people feel that they can convince the officer, the booking officer or a detective (if your case reaches that stature) that they are not guilty. THESE PEOPLE DON’T MAKE THE DECISIONS. They have no affect on guilty or not guilty. Wait to speak to your lawyer! The courts and juries in particular give enormous weight to “confessions” during this stage. A suspect is almost NEVER released after being arrested.

Follow these ten simple rules religiously and many of your rights will remain intact after being arrested. I don’t care how nervous, scared, high or drunk you are, THESE RULES ARE VERY IMPORTANT, and will help you tremendously in the short and long run.

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