While no one in the state of North Carolina ever hopes or expects to deal with an arrest and charge for a crime, it happens every single day. If it happens to you, you may have a million questions. At the end of the day, there is an arrest process that police must follow. If they do not, it could work in your favor if you end up going to court.
So, what is the arrest process? What happens after the fact? What can I do if I believe someone violated my rights?
Say you get in an accident with another vehicle. The occupants of the other car suffer injuries. Police believe impairment contributed to the wreck, and chemical tests show you to have an elevated blood-alcohol content. After an evaluation at the hospital, an officer decides to place you under arrest, places you in his or her vehicle and drives you to the station for booking.
Once you get to the station, before getting into a cell, an officer should pat you down, take your picture and fingerprints, and collect your personal belongings. An officer should give you an inventory list for review. If you do not agree with the list, you do not have to sign it.
After your booking, you'll have to attend an arraignment hearing. This tends to happen fairly quickly after an arrest. In this hearing, a judge will decide if there will be a bond set in your case. If there is and you can pay it, police will release you pending the results of trial. You have the right to have legal counsel present during this hearing.
After all that
After this process, the real work begins. You'll have the opportunity to work closely with legal counsel on your criminal defense. There are various defense strategies for different crimes. Going back to the DUI example from above, depending on the finer details of the case, it may be possible to fight the results of the toxicology tests and question officer actions in hopes of achieving a case dismissal or at least a reduction in charges.
If you believe that, at any point during the arrest process, your rights were violated, you have the right to say something. You and your attorney can discuss the issue and decide the best way to proceed.
Getting arrested can be frightening, especially if you do not know what to expect. Thankfully, you can request help from the get-go.