The first thing to remember is that you need to keep your head on straight. I know it sounds pretty obvious, but if you’re arrested, you’ll probably be in a state of panic. It’s important to think clearly and make good decisions because this will affect the rest of your life. There’s a reason why many countries have laws against self-incrimination – they don’t want innocent people being punished for crimes they didn’t commit! So, the first thing to do after being arrested is:
Do not make any statements or confessions.
This one might be pretty difficult if you’ve already been interrogated by the police, but it doesn’t hurt to try! No matter what happens, no matter how much pressure they put on you or how bad things look at this point – do not confess to anything unless you are 100% sure that everything that comes out of your mouth is true and correct. Making a false confession will only make things worse for yourself in the future; even if there is evidence against someone else (which may or may not exist) there will always be doubt about whether or not an individual was responsible for what he/she says he/she did when under pressure from knowing something incriminating about himself/herself and in fear of missing out on plea bargaining opportunities with authorities. I need to find a bail lawyer now.
If you are detained for questioning, keep your mouth shut. Do not volunteer information about yourself or your friends or family members and do not answer any questions posed to you by police officers, investigators, district attorneys or anyone else working on the case. The only exception to this rule is if you are asked if you want to contact your attorney before answering questions – at that point, it’s usually okay to talk with a lawyer without getting in trouble with the law. Don’t ask me how I know this; I just do! But don’t ask me how much bail will cost me – I don’t know that either!
If your statement is used against you in court, it may be hard (or impossible) to prove that it was “false.” If there were no witnesses present and all of the evidence consists of what was said during questioning by police officers and/or investigators, then there may be a lot of room for doubt as to whether or not something alleged in those reports happened exactly according to what was written down later on by the person who took notes during questioning (“contemporaneous” report-taking). The only thing worse than being arrested for a crime is being convicted of a crime when innocent. So please: If nothing bad has happened yet – DON’T DO ANYTHING STUPID THAT WOULD MAKE THINGS WORSE FOR YOU! You have already been arrested so obviously something bad has already happened. But you can still make things better for yourself (and others) by keeping your mouth shut and not confessing to something you did not do.
If you have already been charged with a crime, then you need to get a good lawyer. If bail was set and you were released from custody, then your family or friends will probably want to help out with the money for an attorney. They might even be able to find someone who will take care of the whole case, including representation in court if there is a trial. If that’s the case, great! But please don’t be upset if someone says “no” – it’s hard for people outside of your circle of family and friends to commit themselves financially and emotionally to helping someone who has been arrested or served with criminal charges. So if they say no, don’t blame them or get mad or feel like they’re betraying your trust – just accept it as one more step toward getting back on track after being charged with a crime! You’ll probably have plenty of time during this period in which both before any trial takes place (plea bargaining?!) as well as before any conviction is handed down by a judge (appeal?) during which time there should be plenty of opportunity for other people close to you (including strangers!) who care about what happens next very much indeed. Lawyers are expensive; you might also have to pay for bail.
How to get a good lawyer? Start by asking friends and family if they can recommend someone. If everyone else says “no” then go online and look for people who are experienced in criminal defense work. You should probably be looking for lawyers who have experience in the area of criminal law that applies to your particular case (federal, state, local). There are plenty of resources on the internet these days for finding good lawyers; just make sure that you don’t do anything illegal like send them a message saying “I need a lawyer!” without first having been arrested! I’m not kidding! That is illegal as well as stupid – do not take any chances with this because it may be your last chance at getting out of trouble before things really start going bad.
Most lawyers will offer free consultations which is great because it gives you an opportunity to meet with them and talk about what’s happened so far.