What Happens After a Person Gets Arrested?

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Arrests are very common and generally after a person gets arrested there is a set procedure that happens on all criminal cases..  As a matter of fact, 255,592 adult arrests were made in New York State in 2020. But that doesn’t mean that being arrested is not a scary process. 

Being arrested can still be scary despite its frequent occurrence, especially if a person has never been arrested before and is entering into a process that is unbeknown to them. However, the events that occur after a person is arrested do not have to induce more fear because of their alleged level of mystery.  In fact, even though arrest circumstances will vary, there is a general series of events that are in common amongst almost all arrests. 

What Does it Mean to be Arrested?

An arrest occurs when a police officer uses their legal authority to deprive a person of his or her right to move freely.  An arrest is deemed complete when the person being arrested is no longer free to walk away (this usually occurs before arriving at the precinct).

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution only authorizes arrests that are made with probable cause (there is probable cause when there is a reasonable basis for believing that a crime may have been committed by a specific person).

When is An Arrest Warrant Required?

Though arrests can be made with an arrest warrant, an arrest may be made without one if 1) probable cause exists; and 2) there are pressing circumstances. This means that a police officer is not required to seek prior permission from the judge i.e. an arrest warrant prior to making an arrest. So long as a police officer establishes that there is probable cause to believe that the individual committed a crime, police officer has the power to make an arrest.

Although the police usually make arrests without an arrest warrant, sometimes an arrest warrant is required for the police to take someone into custody. Police Officers are authorized to make an arrest without a warrant based on probable cause, so long as an individual is not located inside their home. Police Officers are unable to enter someone’s home to make an arrest without an arrest warrant (assuming no one consents to the entry of the police). The exception is that if there are exigent circumstances that may allow the police officers to make an arrest inside the home without an arrest warrant.

Pre-Booking Procedures After a Person Gets Arrested

If a person is arrested, they will be searched before being taken into custody. Once they are searched, they will be transported to the precinct in which the arrest took place. Sometimes, the police will transport the individual to the precinct where the alleged crime took place for arrest processing.

Upon arriving at the precinct, the police may take any personal property on the person and have them sign an “inventory,” detailing the items that have been taken and secured.  Police may classify personal property in several different ways.

What Are the Different Categories of Personal Property?

Specifically, some of the categories the police use to characterize personal property are:

  • Safe-Keeping – this category means that the items belong to the person being arrested, but they are being taken away because the person can’t have them during the arrest and booking process. After a person gets arrested processed and arraigned by a judge, they will be able to retrieve their property from the precinct. Example: jewelry.
  • Investigative – this type category of personal property applies to items that the police will not be releasing to the arrestee. Rather, after a person gets arrested the police will need to conduct an investigation with regard to that property. Common examples of property that is vouchered as investigative is property which requires the police to ascertain a true owner. For example, let’s say the police arrest someone for driving while under the influence, however the car is not registered to the person driving or to any of the passengers in the car. Then, after a person gets arrested, the police will conduct an investigation to determine who the true owner is to return the car to them.
  • Arrest Evidence – Arrest evidence is anything that the police believe may be of evidentiary value to the criminal case. This applies to both contraband i.e. weapons or drugs, but also personal belongings like a cell phone, or clothing that matches the clothing worn during the commission of the crime. After a person gets arrested, the police will process arrest evidence and keep it until the resolution of the case.

What Is the Booking Process?

After the initial search and the vouchering of the property, a person will be “booked.”  When being booked, officers will ask for basic information, such as name, date of birth and address. Afterwards, the police will fingerprint and photograph the person. After booking, the person can either be “put through live” – meaning, they will be held in custody until they are transported to the court to see the judge. Or they can be given a Desk Appearance Ticket (commonly referred to as “DAT”). Unlike a “live” case, a person who receives a DAT will be required to appear in court at a later date. Although getting a DAT may feel like getting a traffic ticket, do not be misled. It functions just like a regular criminal case. However, you are being given the luxury of coming to court at a later time, instead of waiting 24 hours in custody to appear before a judge.

After a Person Gets Arrested, Should They Be Ready Miranda Rights?

As you may know, criminal cases in real life are nothing like criminal cases on TV. It is a common misconception that at the time or after a person gets arrested, they must be informed of their “Miranda Rights.” Pretty much every crime movie or tv show depicts the detectives reading Miranda rights at the time the handcuffs go on, or when the suspect is being placed into a police car. In real life, Miranda rights serve a limited purpose of advising someone of their rights before they are questioned by the police. If the police do not explain Miranda Rights to a suspect, whatever statements are made as a result of the custodian interrogation will be suppressed. Thus, Miranda Rights only need to be read before the police question the individual.

 Post-Booking Procedures

After a person is booked, their information and limited police paperwork is sent to the District Attorney’s Office for the county where the crime is alleged to have occurred. In New York City, all five of the District Attorneys Offices have a separate Complaint Room, which is a unit within the Office whose sole function it is to review cases and prepare criminal court complaints to accuse someone of a crime. There, a prosecutor will decide whether the case should go forward and what charges are to be filed. If the prosecutor decides not to file any charges, then the person will be released. If the prosecutor does decide to file criminal charges, then the person will be taken before a judge for their arraignment. 

An Arraignment is the first courtroom proceeding in a criminal case.  The sole purpose of the Arraignment is to set bail or conditions of release and to calendar the matter for the next court date. Prior to an arraignment, the attorney (either a public defender appointed by the court or private counsel retained by the client or the client’s family) will go over the criminal court complaint and the charges against someone. At the Arraignment, the Judge will hear from both the District Attorney’s Office and from the Defense attorney regarding their position on bail or a certain set of release conditions.

For some misdemeanor cases, the prosecutor may be offering a plea to resolve the matter at arraignment, in which case a person is able to enter a guilty plea and resolve the matter at arraignment. Typically, offers are not made on felonies at arraignments. Similarly, misdemeanor cases with complainants, orders of protection or those involving DWIs do not receive plea offers at arraignments.

If there is no guilty plea entered at arraignment, the judge will schedule the next court date. Felony matters will usually be calendared for “Grand Jury Action,” while misdemeanor cases will be put over for “Conversion” or “Discovery.”

 Post-Arraignment Procedures

If a person may face jailtime or is convicted of the crimes they are charged with, then they have a constitutional right to receive assistance from an attorney.  This person may personally hire an attorney, or be assigned a “public defender” by the court if they cannot afford an attorney. 

After an arraignment, a person may either go to jail, receive bail (money required by a court when a person is released to ensure that they will return to court), or be released while their case is continuing. If a person cannot post their bail, then they will remain in jail.  If a person either posts their bail or is released with the promise of returning for all future court proceedings (called “on their own recognizance” – commonly referred to as ROR), they are given a date to return to court.  If this person does not return, then their bail money (if applicable) will be forfeited to the court, and a bench warrant (an order to arrest a person who did not show up for their court date), will be ordered. 

Though these arrest procedures may sound simple and direct, that may not always be the case, depending on when a person is arrested.  The time that a person is arrested may influence whether there will be any delays and further, how long a person is kept in a holding cell.  In order to initiate an easier and faster process, it is necessary that a person cooperates with the police and does what they are told to do. However, this in no way means that a person should make ANY statements to the police.  It is inevitable that a person will desire to tell their version of events, especially if they are being wrongfully charged.  

Making a statement to the police without an attorney present may be harmful down the road, or even incriminating. A person should always hold off on speaking until an attorney is present, as every person has the right to do so. Many people feel as though obtaining an attorney may be unnecessary or cause them delay, but this thinking may only harm a person.  Obtaining an attorney may indeed save a person’s life, in more ways than they may have even begun to think of. 

Contact Us for Further Assistance with Your Case

If you or a loved one has been arrested, and you need counsel for an arraignment; to ask questions; or to assist with future criminal court proceedings, please contact us to schedule your initial consultation.