Finding yourself in handcuffs can be a scary and confusing situation. If you have never been arrested before, you may not know what to expect or how to act during the process. Here are some things to keep in mind if you ever find yourself in the back of a police car.

If you have a warrant then you are going to jail. That’s the bad news. If the warrant is for something such as that speeding ticket that you forgot about then the good news is that you may be able to get out on jail by posting a cash bail depending on the amount of the outstanding ticket, or better yet, simply by setting a court date to appear.

If, on the other, hand you were arrested for something like a misdemeanor driving offense you are going to be booked.

Booking: After you have been arrested you will be taken to be booked. This is where you get fingerprinted and have your picture taken. You will be placed into a holding cell while it is being determined if you can and will post bail. If your case is more serious, you may have to sit until your case can be reviewed and heard by a judge.

First Appearance: You should see a judge within 72 hours of your arrest. Any issues pertaining to bond, probable cause hearings and any holds will be addressed during this appearance. Also, if you haven’t retained an attorney you should have the opportunity to speak with a public defender if you meet the qualifications. You may plead guilty at a first appearance but I seriously advise against this choice.

Arraignment: An arraignment hearing is necessary once you are charged with a crime. During an arraignment your charges are read to you and your lawyer (if you have one). During this hearing, you, the defendant, are not required to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.

While is certainly within your rights to do so, I always recommend that you have your charges looked at by a competent attorney. If you do not plead guilty then you will proceed to a motions calendar, if applicable, and a trial calendar.

The arraignment hearing is also when the court determines who will be representing you. You may apply for the services of a public defender, represent yourself, or hire an attorney, but you have to notify the court of your intentions. If you haven’t hired an attorney at this point, the court will give you time to do so. Use this time wisely and consult with an attorney right away.

Pleas and Trial: If you are offered a plea deal you can either accept or go to trial. I recommend that you have an attorney represent you at this stage of the process. The prosecutor may offer you a deal, but they are not allowed to give you legal advice because they represent the interest of the state. How will you know if you’re being offered a good deal or not? This deal may not include you going to jail, but it could have significant consequences. You should always seek competent legal representation.

The sooner you hire an attorney after being arrested, the better your results will be. Furthermore, asserting your right to an attorney or hiring an attorney can prevent police from questioning you on the charges you are currently being arrested for. When in doubt, request your right to an attorney and remain silent.

Will Davis has represented over 5,000 cases in the areas of Criminal Defense, Civil litigation and Civil Rights, spending much of his 13 year career as a litigator in serious felony crimes. He has been recognized multiple times for excellence in litigation and criminal defense. His clients benefit from his fearless, aggressive and compassionate representation in court. Will Davis is the founder of the Law Offices of W.H. Davis P.A and may be reached at 612-206-3789 or email Join him on Facebook.

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