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What is an arrest?
Understanding what an arrest is can go a long way in alleviating misunderstanding and fear during the process. An officer can arrest a person in Virginia if:
- the officer witnesses a person committing a crime,
- the officer has reason to believe (probable cause) that the person has committed a crime, or
- an arrest warrant supported by probable cause has been issued for a person’s arrest.
Under certain situations, police have a right to approach and question you concerning your connection to an investigation; however, you should consider yourself under arrest if they detain you and you are no longer free to walk away from the officer during the questioning.
Fight the law not the police.
First and foremost remember that being arrested is one of the first steps in the legal process designed to protect all parties. An arrest does not equal guilt. It means that the authorities believe you have committed a crime. Whether a valid arrest or misunderstanding, contact a lawyer to guide you through the legal process and help you attain the best possible outcome of your situation.
What do you have to do when you are arrested in Virginia?
Emotions run high during the arrest process regardless of your circumstances. Remaining calm and reducing your exposure to additional charges serves your best interest. When under arrest:
- Respectfully comply with any and all requests the officer may have unless they violate your Constitutional Rights.
- In other words, you do not have to consent to a search and you do not have to speak without a lawyer present.
- When an officer requests that you produce proper identification, proof of insurance and automobile registration, comply with the officer.
- Let the officer do their job
- Do not resist verbally or physically
- Focus on what the officer is doing, be polite, do as they say
- Identify yourself
What are your rights when arrested in Virginia?
While it is imperative to be as polite and cooperative as possible with the officer during any interaction with the officer, there are rights that you also need to be aware of:
- You have the right to not answer questions: This does not mean you do not have to respond to the officer when they speak to you. Remain polite and inform the officer that you will need to have your lawyer present during questioning.
- You have the right to not agree to a search of your property: Although police can perform a search based on what they visibly see, if arrested for probable cause, they cannot perform random searches. Remain polite and inform the officer that you do not agree to the search without a warrant.
- You have the right to not allow an officer to enter your home without a warrant: If police come to your home, do not let them enter unless they have a warrant to search your property and do not step outside your home. Remain polite and inform the officer that they may not come in without a warrant and that you are comfortable talking right at your door.
Do I need a lawyer when I get arrested?
If you do not think you need an attorney, you need an attorney. Hiring a lawyer will only help you get the best outcome for your situation whether you are accused wrongly or even if you are guilty. A lawyer will help you understand the charges brought against you, minimize your exposure to additional charges, assist you in responding to police questions, and guide you in the remaining steps of your particular case.