Police and prosecutors have the awesome power to enforce the law and protect the public by punishing those who break it. The law enforcement personnel who follow the rules of their vocation to the letter are a credit to their profession and model public servants.
Unfortunately, they aren’t perfect. Police and prosecutors make plenty of mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are honest and a part of being human. But there are also bad apples in law enforcement, and sometimes the mistakes are purposeful, leading to someone being wrongfully detained and even criminally charged for something they didn’t do.
It’s a frightening moment, raising a good question: What should you do if a loved one has been wrongfully detained? There’s no exact right answer, but the first and most important step is to retain experienced criminal legal counsel. The attorneys at De Castroverde Law Group, some of whom spent time as prosecutors, understand what you’re feeling and stand ready to work hard on your behalf to bring your loved one home.
Grounds for Arrest
When working out how to help someone you believe has been wrongfully detained, it’s important to understand the legal definition of an arrest. Nevada Revised Statutes 171.104 defines an arrest as the “taking of a person into custody, in a case and in the manner authorized by law.” The statute further says that arrests can be made by both law enforcement officers and private persons.
Generally, under the law, police must have “probable cause” that a person has committed a crime. Arrests can happen spontaneously if a police officer tells you that you are under arrest, handcuffs you, and takes you to jail. Arrests may also happen via an arrest warrant or a summons. In such instances, prosecutors submit an affidavit swearing out why they believe they have probable cause and ask a judge for approval.
Detaining someone and arresting them can mean two different things. The police can detain you temporarily if they suspect you have committed a crime or are likely to commit a crime. Generally, police can only keep you in the place of the particular incident for an hour before having to effect an arrest.
What To Do if You Are Arrested or Detained
First and foremost, remain calm. These situations are emotionally fraught and can spiral out of control quickly. Police do make mistakes, but they do an important job. According to the ACLU, you should follow this advice: “Don’t run, resist, or obstruct the officers. Do not lie or give false documents. Keep your hands where the police can see them.”
The next most important thing to remember is your right to remain silent. In some states, you may be required under the law to give your name, but beyond that, you are free to decline to answer questions about where you were going and why you were going there, as well as other probing questions. This guidance from the ACLU also applies to immigration cases. You do not have to respond when asked whether you are a U.S. citizen or how you came to the country.
The ACLU recommends letting law enforcement know upfront whether you plan to decline to speak. It’s important to do this if you are arrested or officially detained, as is officially requesting an attorney. The government can provide an attorney if you cannot afford one yourself.
What To Do if a Loved One Is Arrested or Detained
As a supporter, you should also remain quiet. You may wish to defend your loved one, but doing so could cause the situation to escalate as emotions climb out of control for all parties. You should also make a point to stay out of the way of officers as they do their job. You do not want to be arrested as well.
The best way to help is to document events as they unfold. Write down what happened and where it took place. As long as you stand at an appropriate distance, you have the right to record the events on your phone. According to the ACLU, you should not try to hide the fact that you are recording. Doing so is part of your rights.
In addition, gather information about the people involved, such as the officers’ badge numbers and car numbers, the law enforcement agency they represent, the number of officers, their names if possible, and whether anyone was injured. These notes may be important if events are later disputed and can provide credibility for your account. Try to get contact details for other witnesses as well. This information may prove critically important if you believe officers used excessive force.
Your notes and observations could help your loved one’s attorney develop a proper defense. They can help point out inconsistencies in police accounts in reports or on the witness stand.
If the arrest or detention happens when you are not present, you can play the most important role as a calm adviser and advocate. Make sure your loved one stays calm, and remind them not to speak to the police. Find out where your loved one is or is being taken. If you can, initiate contact with a lawyer on their behalf.
Being arrested or detained is a frightening experience for anyone, and you should retain the services of an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Criminal and Immigration Defense at De Castroverde Law Group
Being charged with a crime can be overwhelming. The experienced criminal defense team at De Castroverde Law can offer the legal advice and support you need to address the matters facing you. Our team includes former state and federal prosecutors who understand how cases are put together and how to build the best defense.
De Castroverde Law was also one of the first firms to offer bilingual attorneys and staff to help cross the language barrier. We believe communication between attorney and client is key when handling these cases. Our team will keep you up to date throughout the entire process. Call us today, or contact us online for a consultation.