After being arrested, you have several rights. These protections facilitate a fair justice process, and it is important to exercise them to avoid doing or saying something early on that could negatively impact your case later.
What Is an Arrest?
An arrest is defined as a restraint upon a person’s liberties. It differs from a stop in that you are held in custody and not free to leave.
In Utah, a law enforcement officer can arrest you under a few circumstances:
- Witness to the alleged offense: If an officer sees you committing or attempting to commit a crime, they can take you into custody unless the violation constitutes a minor misdemeanor.
- Reasonable cause: For felony and class A misdemeanor crimes, an officer can arrest you if they have reasonable grounds to believe that an offense has been committed and you were the one who committed it (Utah Code § 77-7-2).
- Warrant: An officer may take you into custody if a judge has approved a warrant for your arrest.
Whether you are being arrested based on a warrant or probable cause, do not resist the officer even if you believe the arrest is unlawful. Failing to follow a police officer’s commands or doing anything that would prevent the officer from taking you into custody is a class B misdemeanor in Utah (Utah Code § 76-8-305).
You have a better chance of seeking a favorable outcome in your case if you don’t interfere with the officer and you exercise your rights.
Remaining Silent After Your Arrest
You might be tempted to give your account of what happened. But saying anything about the incident, even if you believe it will clear your name, can do more harm than good. Statements you make can be misconstrued and used against you. You might also say something that implicates you in another offense.
You do not have to answer a police officer’s questions or make any statements after your arrest. In fact, if an officer has taken you into custody and plans on interrogating you, they must inform you of your right to remain silent, which is part of the Miranda warning law enforcement officials are required to give. You must directly express that you want to invoke this protection.
In Utah, the only pieces of information you must give to a law enforcement official are your name and date of birth. Not providing these details is called failure to disclose identity, a class B misdemeanor (Utah Code § 76-8-301.5). Beyond giving your name and birthday, you don’t have to say anything, and you cannot be penalized for keeping quiet.
Though it might be difficult not to tell your side of the story, staying silent until you’ve had time to speak with an attorney can be the best course of action.
Consulting an Attorney
Typically, remaining silent is the way to go. But in some situations, making a statement may be okay. But how do you know when to speak and when not to?
Fortunately, you do not have to make this decision on your own. You have the right to consult with an attorney after being arrested. Your criminal defense lawyer can give advice and guidance on handling various aspects of your case.
Once you invoke this right, law enforcement officials should stop the interrogation until you have retained counsel.
Making a Phone Call
After your arrest, you have the right to contact friends, family members, or other responsible adults to let them know you have been taken into custody and where you are being held. You can make more than one phone call if necessary.
If you contact anyone other than a lawyer, the police may monitor the call. Keep your conversation brief and only give the information necessary for them to locate you. Details you provide about the offense could be used against you later.
Being Informed of the Charges
You have the right to know what charges you are facing. You can ask the police officer why you are being arrested. If a warrant has been issued, you can request to review it to ensure you are the person named.
Within 72 hours of your arrest, you should be scheduled for an initial appearance. During the proceeding, the judge will officially inform you of the charges and ensure that you understand them.
What Happens If Your Rights Were Violated?
Overzealous law enforcement officials can overstep their boundaries, resulting in a rights violation. They might make an unlawful arrest or coerce a statement out of an arrestee, among other things.
A rights violation, while unjust, does not necessarily mean that your criminal case will be dismissed. However, it does provide leverage to seek to have evidence deemed inadmissible. If the prosecutor cannot present certain pieces of evidence, their arguments may be weakened, which can lead to a more favorable result for you.
To ensure that your attorney pursues every legal avenue in your case, keep a record of everything that happened during your arrest. Even the most minor details are important when defending against a criminal charge.
Schedule a Consultation with Lokken & Putnam, P.C.
Our Salt Lake City team is here to protect your rights and freedoms. Reach out to us to learn about your legal options for fighting your charge.
Call (801) 829-9783 or submit an online contact form today.