What Happens If You Are Arrested
If you or a loved one, family member, or friend is arrested, you or they generally will be handcuffed and taken to the local precinct in which the arrest occurred for initial processing and fingerprinting. This could easily take six hours.
At the precinct, a police officer will interview the person arrested and obtain background information, including name, address, date of birth, employment information, Social Security number, etc. Then the person arrested will be taken to Central Booking and processed for arraignment, which is the first appearance before a judge. This could easily be the next day!
At the precinct, a police officer will search the person arrested and take personal property, such as house keys, wallet, etc., and any unlawful items (contraband). Items other than contraband are held for safekeeping while the person arrested is in custody. A “Voucher” form listing the property is provided to retrieve it later excepting any contraband. It is also probable that you will be charged with additional criminal charges for any contraband in possession.
If the criminal charges are a misdemeanor or felony, as defined by the New York Penal Law, Vehicle and Traffic Law or New York City Administrative Code, the person arrested will be fingerprinted and photographed. If the charges are offenses classified as violations, the person arrested will likely not be fingerprinted and probably will be given a desk appearance ticket (DAT) and released. In such event, the arraignment will then be the return date on the DAT. Fair or not, the issuance of a DAT is entirely up to the discretion of the police.
The police will check the records system to see if the person arrested is ” wanted” for an arrest or court warrant, summons or unpaid traffic tickets. If there is a warrant, the person arrested will have to spend additional time at the precinct in the holding cell before an arraignment, while the court locates the paperwork. If the warrant is from another county after the arraignment, the person arrested will likely be transferred to that other county.
The person arrested will be allowed to make up to three free calls within New York City, or three collect calls to out-of-town numbers. The arrested person will then be taken to “Central Booking”, which is located at the courthouse where the arraignment will take place.
The police may or may not give the arrested person the “MIRANDA WARNINGS.”
Only if the police intend on questioning the person arrested will they give the warnings. However, anything that is said in the presence of a police officer, or overheard in a telephone call, or to other prisoners, etc., may be used against that person even if the Miranda warnings have not been given! Generally speaking, the police question you for no other reason than to use it against you.
While you are being held at central booking, the paperwork required for your arraignment will be completed and your case will be “docketed” and assigned to a courtroom. Anyone arrested in New York must be arraigned within 24 hours unless the police can provide a reasonable explanation for the delay. You should contact my office at 718-720-1000, so that I may appear for the arraignment.
At the arraignment, the person arrested is formally informed of the criminal charges. In reality, however, this formal reading of the charges and rights is waived by defense counsel. The District Attorney will generally then give notices of any statements the People intend to use against the person arrested, as well as any identification of the person arrested by prosecution witnesses, and then give a short recitation of the NYPD’s version of the events that resulted in the arrest. The court will then ask the District Attorney for a recommendation on whether the person should be released on their own recognizance (“ROR’d”) or have bail set. I will then argue for a “ROR” or lower bail, and advise the court that the person charged is not a “flight risk” and has strong community ties. The gravity of the charges and the prior criminal record of the accused is considered by the court in determining bail.
In felony cases, the defendant’s case may be waved over to the grand jury. The People (that is, the State) are required to do more than prepare a written accusation when the charge includes a felony. In New York, the Government is required to obtain an indictment in order to prosecute a felony case through its conclusion at a trial. An indictment is not a determination of guilt. Instead, it is the authority for the Government, given by the Grand Jury, to prosecute a person for a felony. The Grand Jury is a group of citizens called for jury duty. More details of the grand jury can be obtained from contacting my office for a free consultation.
The People are required to get an indictment against every person who is charged with a felony unless the case is resolved by a plea agreement. While the burden on the Government is low to obtain the Grand Jury indictment, the Grand Jury process is time-consuming so many felony cases are adjourned from arraignments and are negotiated and ultimately resolved without needing to be indicted. The accused has the option of testifying at the Grand Jury in cases where the accused was arrested before an indictment.
Note: Regarding arrests, a police officer may arrest an individual if he has “probable cause” to believe that the person committed a crime or violation. Upon arrest, the officer must file a felony or a misdemeanor complaint in the Criminal Court.
TIP: Often a police officer or a detective may call you and offer you a chance to surrender voluntarily. This is preferable to getting arrested. However, you should have an attorney present, even if you are not sure whether you’ll be charged with a crime. You should not make any statements to the police without an attorney present. In my opinion, the police may simply be trying to obtain statements from you, to use against you in charging you accordingly.
For more detailed information contact my office for a free consultation at 718-720-1000.