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New York City Arrest Process

In New York City, the period between arrest and arraignment is customarily known as the arrest process. For people arrested for the first time, this 12 to 24 hour period can be some of the tensest and most anxiety-ridden moments of their lives and it is not uncommon for some individuals to regret the decisions they have made without reflection at the precinct. Whether those decisions involve a signed written statement of the incident or belligerence toward police officers, what happens during the processing of arrest can affect your later trial. Most harmful decisions here, as in life, are born from ignorance. That is why it is so important, if you or your loved one has been recently arrested by the police, to seek legal help who could help you through the New York City arrest process. Securing the help of a criminal attorney at the precinct, where “police are permitted to lie or use some deceptive methods” to obtain a confession, People v. Berumen, 46 A.D.3d 1019, 1020 (3d Dep’t. 2007), may spell the difference between a long day and a life-altering one.

Is Someone Entitled to an Attorney after an Arrest?

Under state law, the right to have an attorney present typically does not come into play until the arraignment hearing. Only at arraignment does the presence of legal counsel at each critical stage of a criminal proceeding become necessary. During the arrest process in New York City, the police can hold a person without the presence of their attorney for up to 24 hours. In some cases, this 24-hour window before arraignment is required can increase. During this time, the police can try to question or interview the suspect about the offenses they are alleged to have committed.

That said, a person that has been arrested has the right to an attorney if they explicitly request one or communicate to the police that they have hired. Once a defendant notifies the police that they are represented by counsel or asks for an attorney to be provided, law enforcement may not question them further without their lawyer present.

Even without an attorney, a person that has been arrested is under no obligation to discuss their case with the police. A person charged with a crime has the right to refuse to say anything outside of providing basic biographical information like their name and address. In fact, the police must notify a defendant of these rights when they get arrest. This is known as reading  Miranda rights.

Should Someone Speak with Police After an Arrest?

The decision whether to give a statement at the precinct or at the courthouse should always be an informed one and no statement should ever be made without first contacting a criminal attorney who has experience protecting clients from jailhouse interrogations by police. Although just one of many important decisions that are made throughout the arrest processes, deciding to create a written confession is often considered the most significant. A written statement of confession often provides the prosecution with their most persuasive piece of evidence of guilt in your case. In fact, a written confession made at the precinct could be the difference between a conviction and an acquittal at trial.

The powerfully persuasive effect of a written confession, whether voluntarily made or not, is precisely the reason why the Right Against Self-Incrimination was incorporated within the Federal Constitution. Pleading the Fifth Amendment, otherwise referred to by Miranda Warnings as the Right to Remain Silent, is both the most meaningful constitutional protection and the most vulnerable one throughout the New York City arrest process. Its inadvertent waiver at the precinct or during pre-arraignment detention often renders corollary rights – like the right to a fair and impartial jury trial and the presumption of innocence – hollow.

In the rare instances where it is worthwhile to speak with law enforcement after an arrest, it is vital to do so in the presence of an attorney. It is best to follow the advice of legal counsel carefully when dealing with the police after an arrest but before arraignment.

How Can Understanding the Arrest Process Help?

Knowing when to exercise your constitutional rights when speaking with law enforcement throughout the process may prove critical to preserving potential defenses to any state charges later filed at arraignment. Understanding how the arrest process works in New York City, specifically the five boroughs, may provide a measure of understanding of how decisions you make at the precinct often impact your prospects for success at trial.

The following articles may provide some insight on what to expect after a New York City arrest.

  • New York City Arrest Process: Written Confessions & Exercising the 5th Amendment at the Precinct
  • New York City Arrest Process: Pre-Arraignment Detention, How to Prepare for Your NYC Bail Hearing
  • Arraignment & (Hopeful) Release

Contact a New York City Attorney for Help with the Arrest Process

Call us today at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman to schedule a free consultation. We can begin the discussion on how best to proceed in light of yours or your loved one’s recent criminal charges. Our team is prepared to help you through the New York City arrest process and work closely on your case. We could help you avoid serious consequences and get your life back on track.

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