Most of the time when you are placed under arrest, it will be fairly clear what you are being arrested for. Although the police are not required to tell you the reason they are arresting you, in most cases they will, and, in cases where they do not, it is often obvious from the context what crime they believe you committed. However, sometimes it may not be clear at all to you why you have been arrested, and you may feel like you have done nothing wrong. Below, our experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer explains what steps you should take if you have been arrested but don’t know why.
The Criminal Investigation Process in Salt Lake City
Sometimes, if police officers personally witness someone commit a crime, of if they are given clear evidence that a particular person committed a crime, they will have probable cause to arrest that person on the spot without a warrant. Most of the time, however, there will be an investigation into a crime that has occurred and, once that investigation is complete and a suspect has been identified, the investigating officer will request a warrant for that person’s arrest.
Investigations can involve interviewing witnesses, collecting DNA evidence, reviewing security tape footage from the area near where the incident occurred, and much more. They can take a long time depending on the nature of the alleged crime and the ease or difficulty with which the evidence can be collected. Oftentimes, months or even years can pass before an arrest is made, and by the time the police end up at your door, you may have completely forgotten about the underlying incident.
In other situations, you might be arrested wrongfully, based on bad information or the fact that you matched a description and were in the wrong place at the wrong time. In a situation like this, it can be extremely disorienting and you may have absolutely no idea why you are being apprehended.
The Post-Arrest Process in Salt Lake City
After an arrest has been made, you should request that the arresting officers tell you the reason you are being taken into custody. While they are not required to do so, most officers will at least give you the courtesy of telling you the basics of what crime you are being charged with. The important thing is that you do not answer any of their questions, even if you have no idea what they are talking about and know you are completely innocent. It is very easy for officers to twist your words and use them against you later. For example, you may answer yes to a question asking if you frequent a certain park, not realizing that this park is where the crime they are investigating occurred.
You have the constitutional right to remain silent and do not have to speak to the officers. Instead, you should request a lawyer as soon as possible. The officers will likely allow you to make a phone call, and you should use that to either call a lawyer yourself or to ask a loved one to retain an experienced St. George criminal defense attorney like those at Overson & Bugden for you as soon as possible. Until the lawyer is by your side to advise you on what to say and not to say, you should exercise your right to remain silent and not answer any of the questions the officers pose to you.
Your lawyer will work to get a better understanding of the crime you are being charged with, and will speak to you to try to determine whether this is part of an incident that you had forgotten or if it is something you know absolutely nothing about. If the lawyer cannot get more information, you will definitely be read the charges against you at your arraignment hearing. At this hearing, the judge will also advise you of your rights and ask if you want to plead guilty or not guilty. Your lawyer will almost certainly advise you to plead not guilty at this point so they can gather more information on the charges against you and assess their strengths and weaknesses.
The Plea Bargaining and Trial Stages of a Salt Lake City Criminal Case
The next steps your lawyer will take will depend on what your feelings are about the charges at this point. If you are certain of your innocence, you may be steadfast in your wish to go to trial and fight for complete exoneration. If, however, you come to understand that you may have some liability for the incident, you may wish to take a plea deal. Such a deal will be worked out between your lawyer and the prosecutor assigned to the case.
Sometime, for low-level crimes, your lawyer may be able to convince the prosecutor to allow you to enter a pre-trial diversion program, where your charges will be dropped if you complete the program successfully. Other times, the prosecutor may offer to reduce the charges to something less serious, or offer to recommend a lenient sentence, if you plead guilty and give up your right to a trial. If you do not feel comfortable taking a deal, our skilled St. George criminal defense attorneys will mount an aggressive defense at trial on your behalf.
If You Were Arrested and Don’t Know Why, Call Our Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
Due to the long, convoluted nature of criminal investigations, the police may show up at your door to arrest you for something that happened months or years ago. It may be something you forgot you were involved in, or it may be the case of a bad investigation where the blame ended up pinned on the wrong person. Either way, the most important things you can do to protect your rights and fight the case is to get in touch with an experienced criminal defense attorney like those at Overson & Bugden. Our lawyers will review all of the prosecution’s evidence and fight to get any baseless charges dismissed. We will work to defend your innocence and your reputation in and out of court. Call us today at (801) 758-2287 for a free consultation.