“You are under arrest!” These are probably some of the scariest words you can ever hear. But what ramifications do these words have, and what really happens from here?
What are your rights?
We’ve all watched a TV show or movie where the police officer reads the person who is arrested their Miranda rights as soon as they put the handcuffs on. You may be surprised to learn that legally, the police do not have to read you your rights if you are arrested. Law enforcement officers are not required to advise a person of their rights, such as their right to remain silent, in every situation. Rather, a law enforcement officer must advise a person of their rights only if they are going to conduct a custodial interrogation. A custodial interrogation occurs only when a person is being questioned at a time when their freedom of movement has been restrained to that degree associated with formal arrest. Put simply, if the officer has made it clear you are not free to go and you are being arrested, any questioning constitutes a custodial interrogation.
Thus, if a law enforcement officer has stopped someone for a routine traffic infraction, such as running a red light, the law enforcement officer usually is not required to advise the person of their rights before questioning them. That is because, although the person is not free to leave, his or her freedom of movement has not been restrained to that degree associated with formal arrest. However, if, for example, a person has been placed under arrest, put in handcuffs, and is being questioned at a police station, then the law enforcement officer would be required to advise the person of their rights because that would constitute a custodial interrogation. If you are questioned without first having your rights read to you, the remedy is not to have the entire case thrown out. However, your statements that were made in response to law enforcement’s questioning may not be admissible in court. The majority of people who are arrested in Texas are not read their rights.
What happens once you are taken to jail?
When you arrive at the jail, you will be processed into their system. Texas law requires that an arrested individual be brought before a judge within 48 hours of being arrested to determine whether there is probable cause for the arrest and to determine what kind of bond, if any, the accused must post. This hearing is known as a magistrate hearing. Thus, the longest you will be in jail without knowing what is going on is 48 hours. However, it is likely you will go before a magistrate judge before the 48-hour mark.
At the magistrate hearing, the judge simply tells you what you have been charged with and what your bond is; this is not a hearing that requires an attorney to be present with you. The judge will not ask if you are guilty or not guilty. Sometimes, depending on the county that the arrest occurs in, a bond will be set before the magistrate hearing. Once there is a bond set, it is possible for either yourself or someone on the outside to post a bond for you. A bail bond company typically charges 10% of what your bond is, and such fees are usually non-refundable. If you posted your own money for bail, then you will usually receive that money back once your case has been resolved. However, courts will sometimes apply bail money towards the court costs and fines that may be assessed as a result of a sentence imposed.
You bond out. Now what?
Around 30 days after the arrest occurs you will have your first court date. At the first court appearance, you typically just announce whether you have an attorney yet or not. If you have an attorney already, then your attorney will speak with the district attorney handling your case and see what evidence they have at that time. It is very common for a district attorney’s office not to have much evidence at the first setting. It takes time for the police departments to provide them with the evidence, if there is any. Frequently, criminal cases can take 6 months to a year to be resolved.
Your case will be resolved either by a dismissal (the best outcome), a plea deal (most common outcome), or a trial. If your case is dismissed, that means that the charges against you go away, and you no longer have to worry about it. However, the arrest will still appear on your record; it will just indicate that it was dismissed. To have the arrest removed from your record, you will have to hire an attorney to do an expunction for you.
The bottom line is that being arrested is a huge imposition on your life. It is always best to be aware of the law and call an attorney if you are ever in the unfortunate position of having a run-in with the law.
Author: Leslie Rebescher
DISCLAIMER: The information on this website does not contain legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Every case is different, and this material is not a substitute for, and does not replace the advice or representation of, a licensed attorney.