Understanding Criminal Procedure and Arrests in California

Being arrested is a terrifying thing, whether it is for a minor shoplifting incident or for murder. Most times, you are arrested on the spot, where the crime allegedly happened. Sometimes, the arrest comes long after the crime has occurred. Other times, a criminal investigation can remain active for a long time, like in most white-collar crimes, and the arrest comes after  a grand jury indictment. In any of these situations, an arrest must be conducted within the limits of the law. It' important to keep in mind that you have right despite being arrested for a crime that you may or may not have committed.

At Law Offices of Vivian N. Szawarc, our criminal defense lawyer is committed to our clients. We review all cases thoroughly and uphold our clients' rights and interests. If you have been arrested or think you might be under investigation for a crime, contact us at 888-666-8820 to schedule a free initial consultation and get your defense started without delay.


Your Rights When Arrested in California

Whether you are arrested in Los Angeles or anywhere else in California, you have rights. You have the right to: Remain silent. You should not answer any questions or give explanations or excuses. Anything you say will be used against you. Remaining silent also means you do not have to sign anything, say anything, or make any decisions without your lawyer.

Ask for a lawyer immediately. You need an advocate who can stand up for your rights. If you cannot afford a defense lawyer, you may qualify for a public defender. Once you ask for a lawyer, the police has to stop the interrogation immediately.

Make a local phone call. You can use your phone call to call us at 888-666-8820. If you contact us or any other lawyer, the police cannot listen to the conversation due to attorney-client privilege. But you can also use your local call to call someone else.

Keep in mind that if you do not retain a lawyer who can help you fight criminal allegations, and you are subsequently convicted, you may lose some of your rights as provided by the U.S. Constitution. Namely, if you are convicted of a felony, you can lose the right to vote or to own and use a firearm.


Police Procedures for Arrests in California

During an arrest, police officers detain a person suspected of committing a crime. Arresting someone is a serious matter that involves depriving a person of their freedom of movement. For this reason, police must follow certain procedures when effecting an arrest.

The specific procedural requirements for arrest vary between states. Individual police departments also often have additional arrest procedures.

It is often assumed that police must put a person in handcuffs or into a police vehicle to arrest them, however, this is not the case. Police may choose to do so depending on the circumstances, but they are not legally required to handcuff or physically detain someone to effect an arrest.

Police are also not legally required to read someone their Miranda rights (“you have the right to remain silent, anything you do say…”) at the time of their arrest. These rights must be explained before police can interrogate someone. 

When Can a Law Enforcement Agent Make an Arrest in California

A police officer cannot arrest someone just because “they look suspicious” or the police officer “has a hunch” about something. A police officer in California can arrest someone in any of the three below situations:

The officer has an arrest warrant issued by a judge.

The officer saw someone commit a crime.

The officer has probable cause to believe someone committed or is about to commit a crime.

Probable cause means that actual information exists leading the police officer to believe the person has committed or is about to commit a crime. In other words, the police officer holds more than mere suspicion, that the person committed or will soon commit a crime.

Why You Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer if Arrested in California

If the police arrests you, you should immediately ask to speak to a criminal defense lawyer. You have the right to do so and they are best placed to advise you of the law and the options available to you in your circumstances.

You need a good defense to protect your right and freedoms. The U.S. Constitution guarantees your right to hire a criminal defense lawyer or – if you cannot afford one – be appointed a public defense attorney.

It evens the playing field. A criminal defense lawyer allows you access to knowledge and to mount a defense strategy. The state has the experience, time, and money on its side. It uses this to collect evidence and build a case against you.

An attorney can build a strong defense strategy. An attorney listens to your side of the story, investigates the facts, applies the facts to the law, and strategizes. Sometimes a clear defense is available, other times, it is more about raising reasonable doubt. Remember, the prosecutor has the burden to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, you do not need to prove anything.

Sometimes, law enforcement overreaches. A smart criminal defense attorney knows what to look for when a police officer may not have carried out a search or interrogation properly. Violations of your constitutional rights can result in the exclusion of any evidence obtained from that violation, which is often referred to as the fruit of the poisonous tree.

It's complicated. The laws and procedures related to criminal law and criminal defense are complicated. You cannot do it alone unless you have knowledge and experience. If you try to do it on your own, you may end up in a worse place than you would have been. For example, if you are offered a plea agreement, the State will all but dictate the terms and conditions, and you may agree without putting up a fight in fear that it is your only option. But an experienced criminal defense attorney can negotiate and ultimately argue for a better plea agreement.


Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer in California Today

An arrest, whether it is the first time or not, is always difficult. Getting the representation you need to see your case through to the end is essential if you want to safeguard your rights and freedoms as best as possible. You do have to face criminal allegations on your own.

At Law Offices of Vivian N. Szawarc, our criminal defense lawyer represents clients who want to obtain the best outcome possible in their situation. Contact us today by filling out the online form or calling us at 888-666-8820 to schedule a free initial consultation.

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