You were just pulled over for a meaningless traffic incident. Maybe you accidentally ran a red light or ignored a stop sign. But things are about to get more serious.
As you wait, your heart pounding in your chest, the officer walks back to your vehicle.
“Sir, I’m going to need you to step out of the vehicle,” he says. Next thing you know, you’re pressed against the car as you feel the handcuffs tighten around your wrist.
You didn’t do anything worthy of arrest, and you can prove it.
This may sound like a horror story, but it’s all too real. In fact, unlawful arrests are such a problem that the ACLU is currently filing a suit against the D.C. police force.
But what should you do if you’ve experienced an unlawful arrest? Read on, these tips could save you tons of trouble and even your freedom.
Understanding What Constitutes An Unlawful Arrest
Before we give you tips on what to do if you’ve experienced a false arrest, let’s first look into the definition.
Generally speaking, an unlawful arrest is an arrest that:
“…consists of an unlawful restraint of an individual’s personal liberty or freedom of movement by another purporting to act according to the law.”
That could be anything from being detained, like the example from the intro, to an unwarranted search and seizure.
The officer(s) must have a distinct probable cause that the arrest is warranted. In short, an officer must have a specific reason to arrest you.
It’s tricky territory, to say the least, as human error is very real and officers don’t always provide a reason for an arrest.
What Should You Do?
Let’s face it, getting arrested is a terrifying experience. But knowing what to do could just get you out of jail. So what should you do if you’re arrested unlawfully?
You’re likely experiencing the full gamut of emotion upon your arrest, but try to keep a clear head. Remain calm and focus on your breathing.
Choose Your Words Carefully
Your Miranda rights give you the freedom to remain silent during your arrest. However, that may be easier said than done, as you likely have tons of questions.
If you have to say anything, try and keep your sentences short and concise. You know that you didn’t do anything, but the officer considers you a criminal. Therefore, anything you say that could be suspicious could be used against you.
Therefore, anything you say that could be suspicious could be used against you.
It’s okay to ask why you’ve been arrested. In fact, it’s encouraged. But don’t yell, scream, curse, or do anything that may paint you in a bad light.
Know Your Rights
Finally, understand that you have rights, particularly under the Fourth Amendment. An officer isn’t legally allowed to search a citizen’s property without a warrant. This includes your vehicle, home, or apartment. You have rights as a citizen.
Let’s take a moment to tackle this tricky topic. You may have read that it’s legally acceptable to resist arrest if you believe it’s unlawful.
This is true to an extent. Ultimately, the extent to which you’re allowed to resist arrest depends on your state.
In Texas, for instance, resisting arrest is actually a misdemeanor and can result in a $4,000 fine. Therefore, it isn’t recommended that you resist arrest.
Let Us Help
If you’re the victim of a false arrest, we’d love to hear your case and help you get the compensation you’re entitled to.
With decades of experience in criminal defense, we have the skills to right this wrong. Get in touch with us today and win back your freedom.