You may have a loved one who is on the brink of facing criminal legal trouble, or you may be under investigation yourself. Whichever the case, you want to gain information on the possibility of authorities making an arrest and what it could mean for you or your loved one.
Wanting to obtain this information ahead of time is a wise step, especially if you worry that evidence is gathering against you. Understanding the steps involved in an arrest could help you prepare or allow you to better understand what your loved one is going through.
What happens during an arrest?
If authorities suspect you or your loved one of criminal activity, you are not under arrest until a police officer takes you into custody. At this point, you no longer have the ability to leave on your own or refuse interactions with officers. If an officer does arrest you, he or she must read you your rights so that you understand your protections from self-incrimination, which includes your right to remain silent and right to an attorney. If officers do not inform you of your rights, they have violated protocol.
After the initial arrest, an officer may search you and your immediate surroundings to make sure that you do not have any contraband items, like weapons, drugs or stolen property.
What happens during booking?
After the arrest, if reason exists, officers will book you. During booking, officers will gather your personal information, such as your name, address and birthdate, take your fingerprints and photograph you. If prolonged detainment occurs without booking, it could mean that authorities have unlawfully held you or your loved one.
After booking you, the prosecution only has a certain amount of time in which to file charges against you. However, the prosecution has the ability to change the charges later, especially if evidence of additional crimes comes to light.
When should you contact an attorney?
As mentioned, the arresting officer should inform you of your right to an attorney during the arrest. It may work in your best interests to exercise that right and hope that your loved one did the same soon after the arrest. Contacting a North Carolina attorney could allow you to better understand the situation and the best options for handling the case. It is important to remember that an arrest does not necessarily mean that formal charges will come about or that a conviction is imminent.