Toni Messina, Esq.  Criminal Defense Attorney | 305 Broadway | Ste. 1422 | New York, NY | 10007

WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE ARRESTED

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IF YOU ARE STOPPED BY THE POLICE

1.  Do not tell the police ANYTHING.  Don't try to explain away your actions, give an excuse, give an alibi, or blame someone else.  SAY NOTHING.   MORE IMPORTANTLY: DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING without first consulting with your attorney.

2.  Immediately let them know you are not interested in speaking to them, that you have an attorney and want to speak to her.  They may tell you that if you speak to them, they will let you go.  DO NOT BELIEVE THIS.  They are, by law, allowed to lie to you.

3.  Call a friend or family member and ask them to hire an attorney.  Some police officers will permit you to make MORE than one phone call, but the first thing they will likely do is seize the cell phone that you personally own.  They may also seek a court order to search it's contents.

IF YOU ARE ARRESTED

1.  BE CALM.  Some police officers will use any excuse to use force, DO NOT give them one.

2.  DO NOT RUN.

3.  DO NOT MAKE ANY SUDDEN MOVES, especially toward your pockets.

Summons and Desk Appearance Tickets:   Depending on what you are arrested for, you could be given a desk appearance ticket or a   summons (DAT, SAP) to return to court on another date, or you could be brought in immediately for "booking."

THE BOOKING PROCESS

The Police will take you to their precinct.  You will probably be strip searched (this may include an anal search where they require you to squat and cough).  At this time, they will seize any property you are carrying on your person. (This includes money, cell phone, papers, contraband, etc.)

 

"Dropping" or "ditching" any property prior to being searched, particularly contraband (drugs, etc.) will not save you from being arrested and charged with it's possession.

         

You will be held in a cell, asked for your “pedigree” (personal data like date of birth, address, job info, etc.).   Your fingerprints will be taken and eventually you will be brought to one of the holding pens in the Courthouse of the borough in which you were arrested (if in Manhattan, 100 Centre Street) for criminal-court arraignment.

COURT APPEARANCE

You will see a judge and meet a court-appointed lawyer (Public Defender) within 48 hours after having arrived.  This part is not fun. You WILL be scared, tired, hungry, cold, and placed in a cell with a lot of other people, some who are charged with worse or lesser crimes than you. Here is where hiring an attorney will help push the process ahead more quickly.  HIRING AN ATTORNEY CAN SIGNIFICANTLY SHORTEN THE TIME IT TAKES TO SEE A JUDGE.

 

The Prosecutor ( “the People”) will tell the judge how much bail they think should be set.  The amount they ask is a function of your past criminal history, whether you have ties to New York, (live here, have family here, etc.), the severity of the crime, and the personality of the particular District Attorney's Office you are dealing with.

 

If bail is set and you can afford to pay it (if possible, have a family member go to the court and pay immediately) you will get out, generally within hours.  If you can't make bail, your next court date will be within 5 working days for misdemeanors (known as the 170.70 day) or 6 days for felonies (known as the 180.80 day).

 

It is possible you could be released on that next court date if:

1.    You have no warrants or other holds

AND

2.   "The People" failed to convert the misdemeanor (get the complainant to sign an affidavit swearing to the facts) or to INDICT you for a felony (INDICT means they will present the evidence they have against you to the Grand Jury).

 

Whether you are able to get out of jail or not is directly related to the likelihood of you winning your case.