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What Are Your Legal Rights During An Arrest?

The experience of getting arrested is one of the scariest and most confusing situations that one can ever go through in their lifetime. Whether it’s for a misdemeanor or a case of mistaken identity, suddenly being asked to put your hands behind your back and feeling cuffs on your wrists can be tense and terrifying. 

Regardless of your arrest history or your daily activities, it is incredibly important to brush up on what you should know about your legal rights in the event of an arrest.

What is the Legal Definition of an Arrest?

An arrest is the taking, seizing, or detaining of an individual. This is typically done by touching or putting hands on a person or taking an action that indicates an intention to take the individual into custody. Additionally, an arrest is not complete without the subjection of a person being arrested to the control and will of the person making the arrest.

During a lawful arrest, your person and the immediate area of your place of arrest may be searched by authorities based on the circumstances of your case. Furthermore, for arrests made in a home, the police may conduct a limited search for persons outside the immediate area.

What Is an Arrest Warrant?

For an arrest to be legal, the arresting party must possess an arrest warrant during the time of apprehension. This document is legally defined as a written order by a judge commanding the police to arrest the person named in the warrant. 

Warrants are administered by the courts concerning a case brought forth by the authorities. To acquire an arrest warrant, arresting authorities must go through a set of legal processes which finalize and notarize the enforceability of the document. 

If a person is arrested pursuant to a warrant, the arresting officer must inform them of their authority, purpose, and that they are acting under the authority of the warrant. Arrest warrants must be presented at the time of the arrest or promptly thereafter. 

Can You Be Arrested without a Warrant?

Although the S.O.P of an arrest dictates that an arresting officer must present a warrant, there are some instances wherein it is still possible for authorities to apprehend a person without one. The police can arrest someone without a warrant if they have a reason to believe that they have committed or are about to commit:

  1. A felony whether or not in their presence;
  2. A misdemeanor in their presence;
  3. A misdemeanor not in their presence if they have a reason to believe that one may escape, cause injury to persons or property, or destroy evidence unless immediately arrested

What Are Your Rights in the Event of an Arrest?

If a police officer approaches you in a public place to request information that may lead to your arrest, you can legally refuse to answer and just walk away. 

Should authorities reasonably suspect that you are committing, have committed, or are about to commit a crime, however, they are legally allowed to briefly detain you for questioning. Again, you are not required to answer or comply if an officer requests your identification and an explanation for your actions in such circumstances.

When you are arrested or taken into police custody, an officer will inform you of your legal rights (which are commonly quoted as the Miranda Rights)—which consists of the following: 

  1. The right to be informed of the charges against you and the allowable penalties;
  2. The right to obtain a lawyer, including the right to have one appointed if you cannot afford one;
  3. The right to have a judge decide whether you should be released from jail until your trial, and;
  4. The right to remain silent.

During the case of a false arrest (wherein you are falsely accused or mistakenly identified for another person), it is critical to use your right to obtain a lawyer. Fortunately, enlisting the services of Zuckerberg & Halperin’s attorneys can help you reclaim your freedom in such circumstances. 


Being arrested by a police officer can make for a frightful predicament, which is why it’s vital to know all of your legal rights. By understanding what you are entitled to according to the American Constitution and legal system, you’ll be able to maintain your innocence and act accordingly during detainment and apprehension.

In the event that you are wrongfully arrested, it pays to have expert attorneys that are ready to oversee and handle your case for you. If you need a false arrest lawyer in DC, get in touch with us today for a free consultation!

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Paul Zukerberg has been a frequent legal commentator on TV and radio and is a trusted voice listeners turn to for the latest legal developments.