Published in Criminal Law on July 20, 2017.
If you have just been arrested, what you say and do next could potentially have drastic implications for the outcome of your case. The police and prosecutors will be working hard to obtain a conviction; and, if you give them information to use against you or make other mistakes that could harm your defense, you could significantly raise the stakes at your trial.
Every situation is unique, and anyone who has been arrested should seek advice from an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Generally speaking, however, here are 10 steps you can take to help protect yourself after an arrest in Indiana.
Protecting Your Rights After an Arrest in Indiana
1. Remain Calm.
First, remain calm. You have just been arrested, and we understand that can be a frightening and stress-inducing experience. But, being arrested does not mean you are guilty, and it does not mean that your life is over. Take a deep breath, listen to what the arresting officer says, and be smart about protecting your legal rights.
2. Assert Your Right to Legal Representation.
Once you have been arrested, you have the Constitutional right to be represented by an attorney. So, ask to speak with your lawyer. Not only will this allow you to seek legal advice, but it will also prevent you from facing interrogation without the benefit of legal representation.
3. Assert Your Right to Remain Silent.
After an arrest, you also have the right to remain silent. Even if you are sure you are innocent and you think you can explain what happened, do not attempt to do so. The police and prosecutors can use anything you say against you, and trying to explain or answer the arresting officer’s questions can only have negative consequences for your case.
4. Be Respectful Toward the Arresting Officer.
While you need to avoid saying anything that could jeopardize your defense, you also need to be respectful toward the arresting officer. Politely request to speak with your lawyer and state that you are exercising your right to remain silent. Also, it is vitally important to avoid doing or saying anything that could lead to a confrontation.
5. Do Not Resist Arrest or Attempt to Flee.
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your arrest, you do not want to resist arrest or attempt to flee. Failing to cooperate with the arresting officer will only worsen your situation, and likely lead to additional criminal charges against you.
6. Focus on Remembering the Facts of Your Arrest.
Amidst everything that is going on, it is important to try to remember the details. What were you doing when you got stopped or pulled over? Did the arresting officer inform you of your Miranda rights? What else did the officer say before, during, and after your arrest? What did you say? What else stands out from your interaction with the arresting officer?
As soon as you have the opportunity to do so, you should write down everything you remember about your arrest. No detail is too small. Your attorney can decide what is relevant and how to best use your recollections for your defense.
7. Make Sure You Know the Key Dates and Deadlines in Your Case.
After an arrest, your first court appearance will be the “initial hearing” (in other states, this is commonly referred to as an “arraignment”). You need to make sure you know when and where your initial hearing is scheduled, and you need to plan to attend with your attorney. If you do not think you can afford an attorney, you will have the opportunity to ask for a public defender during your initial hearing.
Following your initial hearing – which will usually take place within a few days following your arrest – there will be a number of other key dates and deadlines you will need to be aware of as well.
8. Understand the Potential Penalties for the Crime(s) Alleged.
Indiana has strict sentencing laws for felonies and misdemeanors, and there are a number of “sentencing enhancements” that can result in penalties above and beyond those imposed under normal circumstances. Misdemeanor offenses can carry between 60 days and one year of jail time plus $500 to $5,000 in fines (without sentencing enhancements). A Level 6 felony carries six months to 2.5 years of incarceration (without sentencing enhancements), while a Level 1 felony carries minimum and maximum sentences of 20 and 40 years, respectively. Murder is addressed separately and carries 45 to 65 years of incarceration, with the potential for capital punishment.
Learn more about Indiana’s sentencing laws.
9. Follow Your Attorney’s Advice.
To a certain extent, the steps you will need to take after your arrest will depend on the severity of the charges against you and the nature of the allegations in your case. To avoid damaging mistakes and put yourself in the best possible position to present the strongest possible defense, you need to follow your attorney’s advice.
10. Be Prepared to Present a Vigorous Defense at Trial.
Finally, in addition to following your attorney’s advice, you also need to be prepared to take an active role in your defense. Whether that means preparing to testify or simply preparing to endure the weeks and months to come, you need to make sure you are doing everything in your power to help your case. While not all criminal cases in Indiana go to trial, some do. If you need to go to court to protect your rights and preserve your future, you need to make sure you are fully committed to doing what it takes to win a favorable result.
These steps are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be considered legal advice. For legal advice tailored to your unique personal circumstances, you should contact an experienced local defense lawyer right away.
Schedule a Confidential Consultation with an Attorney at Eskew Law
The criminal defense attorneys at Eskew Law provide experienced legal representation for individuals facing misdemeanor and felony charges in the Indianapolis area. If you have been arrested, call (317) 974-0177 or contact us online to request an initial consultation now.