What To Do If You Are Arrested in Georgia
An arrest is often a stressful and traumatic experience. The experience can be confusing, and it may be hard to know what to do. If you understand your rights and know how to exercise them, that knowledge can help you avoid confusion and get the help you need to get through the complicated Georgia criminal process.
Know Your Rights — and Actively Protect Them
You have very specific Constitutional rights all the time. The rights exist before the police advise you of your Miranda rights, as they are required to do when they make an arrest. You are entitled to assert those rights in any situation, including when you are arrested or before you are arrested, even if you are only under investigation or detained for questioning. Protecting your rights is the most important thing to remember before and during an arrest.
The Right to Remain Silent
Your right to remain silent during a police investigation or arrest arises from the U.S. Constitution Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. The fact that you assert your right to remain silent and decline to answer questions cannot be used against you in a subsequent criminal proceeding. But if you do not protect the right and volunteer information, your statements can be used against you later.
In Georgia, you may face a charge of obstruction if you fail to respond to a request for identification by demonstrating your name and address. As such, you should provide this information. However, for all other inquiries, exercise your right to an attorney and do not make additional statements. In a traffic stop, you must provide your driver’s license when demanded by a law enforcement officer, as provided for by Georgia law. Refusal to do so is a violation of the law. In addition, failure to produce the license also creates a presumption that you are violating the prohibition of driving without having a valid license in one’s possession. Beyond providing the license information, you should say nothing and simply inform the police that you are exercising your right to remain silent.
If your situation involves a possible DUI arrest, you should be aware of the implied consent law that applies to roadside sobriety tests. While a Georgia driver impliedly consents to testing, you can still refuse to take the tests, but there are serious consequences and penalties for doing so. Learn more about the law in our separate article about implied consent and refusing testing.
You should comply with orders from police officers during an investigation or arrest, including situations where police have a search warrant. Refusing to do so may result in a charge of obstruction or hindering a law enforcement officer in the discharge of their official duties. But you do not need to provide your consent to a search, and you should not do so. That applies for a search of your car or your residence. However, you should not attempt to hide or destroy evidence, which could lead to evidence tampering or potential obstruction charge. Compliance with law enforcement requests does not include volunteering information or answering questions that go beyond providing your identifying information.
If you think law enforcement officers are acting improperly, make careful mental notes about everything that happens during the investigation and arrest. Your lawyer may be able to use improper police conduct as a defense after arrest.
The Right to Legal Representation
The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution gives you the right to have an attorney present during police questioning. As with the right to remain silent, you always have that right, including before arrest and before police read you the Miranda warnings. Along with exercising your right to remain silent, you should advise law enforcement that you want to have an attorney present. At that point, they should stop questioning you. But if they don’t, you should continue to refuse making voluntary statements until your lawyer arrives.
When you go through the booking process, which involves entering your personal identification information, getting fingerprints, and taking mugshots, you may get the opportunity for one phone call. If you are provided the opportunity to make a phone call, you should contact a lawyer, or a friend or family member who can get you a lawyer and help arrange bail if necessary.
Your lawyer protects your rights throughout the remainder of the arrest and criminal process and makes certain you are treated as the law requires. Getting an attorney as soon as possible is essential. Without legal representation, you could make serious mistakes that could negatively impact your lawyer’s ability to defend against the charges.
At Criminal & DUI Law of Georgia, our experienced criminal defense attorneys handle all types of Georgia offenses. We pride ourselves in vigorously defending every client and in providing representation with honesty and integrity. Even if you are being questioned during an investigation and have not been arrested, you can protect your rights by talking with us.
The Georgia Criminal Process
The criminal process in the State of Georgia is complex and can be difficult to understand. The best way to navigate the process successfully is to retain a criminal defense lawyer who knows the process, system, and local practices. Talking with an attorney as soon as possible is always advisable.
You can learn more details about the process in our separate article, What Is the Criminal Process in Georgia?
Cartersville, Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you face any type of Georgia criminal charge, or you are under investigation, please contact us so we can fully protect your rights and defend against the case. We employ the highest standards in client confidentiality and understand the sensitive and private nature of criminal convictions. You can rest assured that we will handle your case with unparalleled confidentiality, professionalism, and integrity.
Based in Cartersville, we serve clients throughout Bartow County, Cobb County, Cherokee County, Gordon County, Floyd County, and Paulding County. Contact us online or call us at (770) 382-0984 today to schedule an appointment.