What should I do if I am arrested?
Firstly, do not talk to the police! Either at the time of your arrest, or before or after you are arrested. You have a constitutional privilege against self-incrimination, in other words, the right to remain silent. Although the police may lead you to believe that it is in your best interests to talk to them, do not be fooled. The police are mainly hoping to get you to confess or to make admissions about the case which can then be used against you in court. Do not assume that they will treat you more favorably if you are cooperative, or will offer you a deal. Do not believe that they in fact have any control over whether you are or are not offered a deal by the District Attorney's office. You should always exercise your right to remain silent until such time as you are able to communicate with an attorney and weigh your options. At that time, your attorney will communicate on your behalf, and in most cases will be able to negotiate a favorable resolution. This becomes more difficult in cases where there are hours and hours of interviews with the police - in which you may have made mistakes, overstatements, confessions etc...
If you are arrested - you will most likely be eligible for bail. You should contact a bail bonds person, and make arrangements to post bail as soon as possible if you have the resources to do so. You will only be required to post eight to ten percent of the total bail amount. Most bail bonds people will also allow you to make payments towards the bail.
You should hire an attorney if you are charged with a criminal offense. If you cannot afford a private attorney, and can establish indigency, you may be eligible for the services of a public defender. The issue of whether you qualify for a public defender will be addressed at your first court hearing, called an arraignment. If it is determined at that time that you do not qualify for a public defender, the court will most likely continue the case to a future date to give you time to hire a private attorney. If you are encarcerated, you may also wish to have a family member make the first contact with an attorney's office.
Attorney Leslie Prince is a partner in the Law Offices of Russo & Prince, and a criminal defense attorney with 30 years experience representing criminal defendants. Ms. Prince represents both juvenile and adult clients at both the trial and appellate levels, in all types of criminal cases.