Your Rights

Know Your Rights After Arrest

Types of Arrest

Misdemeanor – A crime such as Retail Theft less than $150.00,Theft less than $300.00 or Disorderly Conduct. You can be punished by paying a fine up to $2,500.00 or serving up to one year in jail or both.

Felony – The most serious crimes, such as Theft over $300.00, Retail Theft over $150.00, Robbery, Murder, or Possession of Drugs. Punishment for these crimes is imprisonment for more than one year, life imprisonment, probation, or in some cases even death.

When can you be arrested?

If a police officer has a warrant for your arrest.
If a police officer sees you violate or try to violate the law.
If a police officer believes you have violated the law.

After You Have Been Arrested.

You may refuse to talk to the police or answer any questions. You may refuse to sign a statement. You must be allowed to call a lawyer. If you cannot pay for a lawyer, you may insist that you have a free lawyer present during any police questioning.

What Can The Police Do To You After You Are Arrested?

Search your body. Search your belongings. Search your car if you are in it. Search the space around you if you are in your home. The police officer must show you a search warrant before he can enter and search your home.

Can The Police Test You For Alcohol?

Yes, if you have been driving, but the results can be used against you in court. You have the right to refuse, but your refusal may result in your drivers license being taken away. Your refusal to take the test may be used as evidence against you in court.

Your Rights In Court

The court must tell you the charge against you.
The court must tell you of your right to have a lawyer.
The court must appoint a lawyer to represent you if you cannot afford to hire a lawyer.
You must be given time to obtain a lawyer.

What Does “Waive Your Rights” Mean?

To choose to give them up.
You may decide not to talk with a lawyer.
You decide to talk with the police. All facts you give to the police may be used against you in court.
You may decide to sign a statement.
You may decide to take any tests.
You are never required to waive your rights.

When Do You Go To Court?

You may have to go to court several times. The court or the police immediately after arrest will tell you when to go to court.

Do You Need A Lawyer In Court?

It is best for you to have a lawyer with you. The court will ask who your lawyer is. The court will give you a chance to find a lawyer. If there is a chance that you could go to jail and cannot afford to pay for a lawyer, the court will assign an attorney to help you.

What Will Your Lawyer Do?

Your lawyer will learn all about the charges against you. Your lawyer will try to help you. You should try to help your lawyer all you can. Tell the lawyer all you know about your case. Tell your lawyer about your arrest. What you tell your lawyer is private. The police or the court cannot find out what you tell your lawyer.

What Happens In Court?

The court will ask if you plead “guilty” or “not guilty”. Your lawyer will help you make your decision to plead guilty or not guilty.
If you plead ” guilty”, the court will decide your punishment.
If you plead “not guilty,” the court will set a date for your trial.

Can You Answer “Not Guilty” Even If You Are Guilty?

You are innocent until you are proven guilty. Your lawyer may think that the evidence against you is not enough to prove that you are guilty. You may have a better chance if you go to trial. You have a trial only if you plead “not guilty.”

What Kind Of Trial Will You Have?

You have a right to a jury trial. You may ask for a jury trial or a bench trial. If you ask for a bench trial,the judge will decide if you are found “guilty” or “not guilty.” If you request a jury trial, the jury will decide if you are “guilty or “not guilty”. Your lawyer will help you decide whether you should ask for a jury trial.

Is Court Any Different For A Felony Charge?

Yes. Before you answer “guilty” or “not guilty”, you will have a preliminary hearing, or your case will go to the grand jury.
If you have a preliminary hearing, a judge hears the evidence against you in a public courtroom. He then decides if you should be held for trial.
If your case goes to the grand jury, 12 people will hear the evidence against you in a secret meeting. They will decide if you should be held for trial

What Happens While You Wait For Your Trial?

In some cases, you my be freed on bail until the trial, but you must come to court on your court dates before the trial. In some cases, where you have not posted the appropriate bail, you must wait in jail until your trial. In both cases, your lawyer will prepare your case for trial while you wait.


Bail – Guarantee of money to let a person out of jail until after his trial.
Evidence – Anything that shows what is true and what is not.
Innocent – Doing no wrong, not guilty.
Jury – A group of 12 people in court who decide what the facts are.
Preliminary hearing – A meeting in court before the trial for you, your lawyer, the prosecutor and the judge.
Prosecutor – The lawyer for the city or county.
Violation – Breaking the law.
Waive – To give away a right.