About Criminal Law & Your Rights
The criminal justice system protects us by arresting and jailing criminals, but not everyone who is arrested is a “bad person.” Someday, you, a family member, or a close friend may be accused of committing a crime and be arrested. This information provides an overview of the rights of those who have been arrested and explains how Attorney Dax Garvin can help protect your rights.
You are entitled to telephone a person of your choosing notify them of your arrest, but the timing of this telephone call will vary with the arresting officer/agency. You have the right to consult with a lawyer and have him or her present when the police question you. The best practice is to remain silent until your lawyer is present since any statement that you make can be used as evidence against you. If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, you are entitled to a court-appointed attorney in most criminal cases. Local court rules will control when and how the Court appoints you with counsel.
Before any questioning of a person in custody, law enforcement officers are required to notify you of these rights. Often, these rights are read during the confusion of the arrest. Invoke them & remain silent. They could be crucial to your defense.
You should seek the advice of a lawyer at the earliest possible time to avoid incriminating yourself, to get released from custody, and to decide how to resolve the charges pending against you in preparation for your trial.
You can be detained and even handcuffed without being arrested if the police suspect that you are engaging in criminal activity or that you might be armed. For example, the police may ask you to identify yourself and conduct a limited search for weapons if they observe you pacing in front of a closed store in the dark. Do not refuse to identify yourself to a law enforcement officer or you could face additional charges. However do not provide any identifying information except your name, date of birth, and address.
Arrest by Law Enforcement Officers
When arresting a subject, a law enforcement officer, such as a police officer, sheriff’s deputy, state trooper, restricts your freedom of movement because of your possible involvement in a criminal offense. In some cases, the arresting officer may take you into custody at that moment; in others, you may be stopped, verbally or physically, so that you can be questioned about a crime.
An arrest warrant is a written order by a judge directing the police to arrest the person named in the warrant. If a warrant for your arrest has been issued, the police may arrest you in your home or in a public place. At the time of your arrest, the officers making the arrest should tell you that they have a warrant for your arrest, but the officer is not required to show it to you at the time you are taken into custody.
Law enforcement officers may also arrest you without a warrant if they have reason to believe that you have committed a felony, such as robbery, murder or certain drug offenses. If you are arrested without a warrant for a felony or a misdemeanor, you are entitled to a prompt hearing to determine whether the officers had the minimum level of evidence required for a legal arrest. The legal term for this is probable cause.
Typically, the police must have a search warrant before conducting a search; however, there are exceptions to this rule. After a person is arrested, the police may search you and the immediate area around you without a warrant if they reasonably suspect that you may be armed. A search is also permitted when the police see contraband at the time of making an arrest. If the police find something that it is a crime to possess, such as a gun or drugs, they may take it and arrest you for possessing it. The police may also take your money and property from you to keep in a safe place until it can be returned to you or used as evidence.
Being Taken Into Custody
After you have been arrested, you may be taken into custody and brought to a detention facility, where your arrest will be registered into police records and you likely will be fingerprinted and photographed. After processing, you will see a judge to determine your eligibility for a bail bond. This process may take several hours, so do your best to remain calm and remain silent. Do not discuss the circumstances of the alleged crime with others, as any statements you make may be reported to law enforcement and used against you.
You may be asked to participate in a lineup. This is a procedure in which several people, including one or more suspects, are shown to victims or witnesses of a crime to see if they can identify the one who committed it. If you are asked to participate in a lineup, you have a right to have your attorney present.
Getting Released From Custody
After the arrest, you will be brought before a judge to be formally charged with a crime and provided an opportunity to be released while awaiting a trial. If you appear in court without a lawyer, the judge must allow you a reasonable time to find one before proceeding with the case. You might be required to post bail, or you may be released on your promise to appear in court.
Bail is money or other property deposited with the court to ensure that you will appear for your trial. To decide whether to require bail, the judge will consider various factors, such as your family ties, financial resources, employment record, and the seriousness of the crime you have been charged with.
In Travis County, the Travis County Pre-Trial Services officer will contact you hours after you are brought to the holding facility to begin this process, but with an attorney, your release may be secured hours faster.
In Travis County, there are opportunities where your lawyer can make arrangements for your release before seeing a judge. For assistance with 24-hour jail releases click here.
For people who have never before faced criminal charges, an arrest can be a frightening experience. The stress of the arrest may cause you, your family members, or friends to overlook important matters, such as the right to remain silent and the right to advice from a lawyer. If you are contacted by someone who is in police custody, remind them to remain silent. When questioned by the police or arrested, consult a lawyer as soon as possible in order to protect your rights and defend yourself against the charges made against you. A lawyer can also negotiate on your behalf with the prosecutor and advise you of the risks and advantages of cooperating with the authorities. Your lawyer can also help you with the bail process. If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, you may ask the judge to appoint a court-paid lawyer for you.