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Civil Rights: What Are My Rights When I Am Arrested?

Arrested – Wagner

If you are arrested in California, whether you have been wrongfully arrested or not, it is important to know that you have civil rights that protect you from certain actions taken by law enforcement officials. Often, people who have been subject to false arrest and false imprisonment, as well as those who are arrested lawfully, will face unlawful treatment. You have rights under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as well as under specific case law, and you should know your rights if you are arrested. The following are key rights that you have related to arrests.

You Have the Right to Miranda Warnings

Under Miranda v. Arizona (1966), you have the right to what have become known as “Miranda warnings” when you are arrested. Specifically, you must be warned that you have the right to remain silent and that any information you provide can be used against you. You also have a right to a lawyer, and you must be told that, if you cannot afford a lawyer, a public defender will be appointed for you.

Your Rights Attach As Soon As You Are Arrested, Even If You Are Not Told You Are Under Arrest

A person does not have to be told that she or he is under arrest in order to be arrested. This is important because a person who is arrested has certain rights, and those rights attach whether or not a law enforcement official actually says that you are under arrest. Generally speaking, you may be under arrest if you are not free to leave. Some examples of arrest—whether or not the word arrest is used—may include but are not limited to:

  • Being put in a locked police car;
  • Being put into a holding area at the police station or otherwise physically detained;
  • Being handcuffed; or
  • Being fingerprinted at the police station.

You Cannot Be Arrested Without Probable Cause

In most cases, under the Fourth Amendment, you cannot be arrested unless law enforcement officials have probable cause. Probable cause, when it comes to arrests, typically means that law enforcement officials have a reasonable belief that the person has committed a crime. However, the U.S. Constitution does not expressly define probable cause. Accordingly, the U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted the term in different ways. Generally speaking, however, probable cause must be based on reasonableness in some capacity. It is also important to know that law enforcement officials must be able to show that there was probable cause before your arrest.

A person can be arrested with or without a warrant when there is probable cause. However, even if you were arrested pursuant to a warrant, it is essential to remember that a warrant cannot be issued without probable cause. As such, even if there was a warrant issued prior to your arrest, you may be able to show that the warrant was invalid because there was no probable cause for issuing the warrant.

Contact a Civil Rights Attorney in Riverside

If you believe you were falsely arrested or that law enforcement officials violated the law during your arrest, you may be able to file a claim with the help of a Southern California civil rights attorney. An advocate at our firm can speak with you today about your case. Contact Wagner, Zemming, Christensen, LLP for more information about the services we provide to clients subjected to civil rights violations in and around Riverside, CA.

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