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One of the most common and detrimental errors individuals make during their arrest is speaking to law enforcement without legal counsel. If you’ve been arrested, it's essential to remain silent and request an attorney. In fact, this applies even prior to an arrest. If an officer wishes to discuss a potential crime, especially one committed by someone else, it's crucial to request an attorney before any conversation takes place.
This principle becomes even more critical when dealing with higher-tier law enforcement agencies like the FBI or ATF as their involvement often indicates serious allegations. If you are approached by such agencies, never grant them entry to your home or vehicle without a warrant. Politely state your intention to consult with an attorney and arrange a neutral meeting point for further discussions.
During an actual arrest by local law enforcement, once handcuffs are applied, further communication with the police is both unnecessary and potentially harmful. Nothing said at this point will likely lead to immediate release. However, remaining calm, polite, and respectful can affect the treatment you receive after arrest. This type of courtesy can sometimes extend to minor comforts, such as slightly loosened handcuffs.
To be clear, the way one is treated after arrest may not influence the legal case's outcome. However, invoking the right to silence can significantly impact the legal proceedings.
Many charges come with the option for bail or bond, but not all. The most severe crimes, such as certain murders, kidnappings, rape, and violent robberies, often don't permit bail or bond.
For charges that are bondable, restrictions usually accompany the release. For instance, in LA County, many judges prohibit defendants from leaving the county. In domestic violence cases, the accused might be barred from approaching the family home or the alleged victim, often with specified distances like 100, 50, or 10 yards. Such restrictions aim to protect all parties involved and ensure the defendant's appearance at future court dates.
Upon release from jail, while the immediate urge may be to indulge in the comfort of a shower and rest, it's crucial to prioritize recording your memories. As soon as possible, either make a voice memo or jot down a detailed account of the events leading up to and including your arrest. This record will be invaluable in the coming days as your memory is likely to fade or distort over time.
You’ll want to chronicle the 24 hours prior to your arrest, detailing every circumstance and occurrence, and ending with your detention. Your recollection is freshest now, and these details can be instrumental in building your defense.
Next, organize and safeguard all your release documents – you’ll need to keep them until your case reaches its conclusion. This includes any notices about upcoming court appearances and other relevant paperwork. With technology at your fingertips, it's also wise to snap photos of these documents to ensure you always have a digital backup.
When meeting with your attorney, be sure to bring all related paperwork from your arrest and release. It can provide critical insights and details for your legal counsel. They can use this information to quickly begin devising a strategy for your defense.
Lastly, prioritize your court dates. Mark them clearly in your calendar, ensuring nothing conflicts with them. Understandably, this might mean postponing or canceling other commitments, even vacations – but it's essential to recognize the gravity of these dates. They are pivotal in determining the trajectory of your case, and therefore, they should be treated as the most important events in your schedule until your legal matters are settled. For more information on Common Mistakes Made In California Criminal Cases, an initial consultation is your next best step.