YOUR RIGHTS WHEN ARRESTED
- When Are You Under Arrest?
Under Connecticut law, a
police officer may make an arrest without a warrant under a variety of circumstances, most
notably when the arresting officer has reasonable grounds to believe that an offense has
been committed, or is in the process of being committed. As a consequence, the
majority of arrest involving crimes that do not take place in the home are conducted
without a warrant ever being issued.
Since most arrests take place without benefit of a warrant, it is
important to know when an arrest has actually occurred in order to invoke the many
important rights trigged by the act of arrest.
As a general rule, you are arrested whenever a law enforcement
officer takes you into custody or otherwise deprives you of your freedom of movement in
any significant way. In fact, you may be under arrest even though no one has
actually used the word "arrest" or any comparable word. The fact that you
have been deprived of your freedom of movement in some significant manner may amount
legally to an arrest.
Under some circumstances a citizen has a limited power to conduct
- May a Law Enforcement Officer Detain You Without Arresting
Based upon reasonable
suspicion that you may be involved in criminal activity, a police officer may detain you
and require you to identify your self and explain your whereabouts at a particular time
without arresting you. The officer may not, however, remove you from the
immediate vicinity without making an arrest unless you voluntarily accompany the officer
to some other location.
If the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that you are
armed or that you may be dangerous to him or her or others, the officer may conduct a
limited pat-down of your outer garments for the purpose of detecting
weapons. If this "frisk" results in the officer's reasonable belief
that you are carrying a weapon, the officer may remove the suspicious object for the
purpose of protecting him or herself. The officer must return to you any lawful
object unless you are placed under arrest. Unless you are under arrest, the
frisk or search is limited to the suspects weapons.
The officer may ask you some questions in order to complete the
field investigation. You have a constitutional right not to answer them, but it
is nonetheless advisable to provide your name and address, as your failure to do so may
suggest to the officer that criminal activity is afoot. More-over, there is an
infraction law requiring you to produce your license and registration to an officer when
he or she stops a motor vehicle you are operating.
At the conclusion of the temporary detention, the officer must
either arrest you or let you go. Ordinarily, such temporary detention should
not exceed 20 minutes.
If you should enter a retail establishment where goods are placed
on display for sale, the merchant or employees may detain you on the premises for a
reasonable time for questioning if they have probable cause to believe that you have
stolen or have attempted to steal goods for sale. Under such circumstances a police
officer called to the scene may make an arrest for shoplifting even though an alleged
offense was not committed in his or her presence.
- What Are Your Rights After You Have Been Arrested ?
An arrest triggers a number of constitutional protections which
must be afforded by the arresting officer.
You have the right to know the crime or crimes with which you have been charged.
You have the right to know the identity of the policeman with whom you are dealing.
You have the right to communicate by telephone with your attorney, family, your friends,
or a bondsman after you have been brought to the police station and booking procedure are
You have the right to be represented by an attorney at all
critical stages of you case, including police questioning. If you cannot afford
an attorney, the court will appoint an attorney to represent you free of charge provided
you qualify under existing guidelines as an insolvent person.
Remember, constitutional rights may be waived or given up
voluntarily. Before you say or sign anything that might result in a waiver of a
constitutional right, make sure you consult with an attorney.
- What Rights Do You Have When Questioned By Police ?
It is essential to understand that you are
under absolutely no compulsion to co-operate with the police in any way should they begin
questioning you about a crime for which you have been arrested, or any other crime.
You have an absolute right to remain silent. If you
choose to speak, anything you say can and will be used you in a court. If you
decide to answer any questions, you may stop at any time and all questioning must cease.
You have the right to consult with your attorney before answering any questions.
You have the right to have your attorney present if you decide to
answer any questions, and if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you
or appointed for you by the court without cost to you, before any further questions may be
- What should You Say ?
The simple answer is that you
should not say anything to anyone concerning any aspect of the offense with which you have
been charged except, of course, to your attorney. You cannot be legally be
required or forced by a police officer or anyone else to talk, to answer questions, or
sign any papers. If by threats, by persistent questions, or by other means of
coercion, you are forced to give incriminating information, its use against you can be
prevented in court.
Certain official parties, such as the bail commissioner, may, in
the course of their duties, inquire as to certain aspects of your conduct in connection
with the allegations being made. Politely refuse to respond until you have had
a chance to talk to an attorney.
You may be required to provide certain non-testimonial
evidence. In particular, you may be required to participate in a lineup, to
prepare a sample of your penmanship, to speak phrases associated with the crime with which
you are charged, to don certain wearing apparel, or give a sample of your
hair. You should ask to have a absolute right to counsel if you are asked to
participate in a lineup, after you have been formally charged by the prosecuting attorney.
You may also be regard to be fingerprinted and photographed.
- How Do You Arrange For a Lawyer ?
If you do not know a lawyer in the area where you have been
arrested and have no lawyer in your home town whom you would call, you may contact your
county or city Bar Association for the name of an attorney on the lawyer referral
list. Any attorney you contact will be happy to discuss fees with you and give
you some idea of the cost involved. Normally, you have a right to a written fee
agreement that outlines the basis of the fee and the scope of the matter to be handled by
If you cannot afford a private lawyer, you should advise the judge
of this fact at your first appearance or as soon as after that is possible. The
judge will ask you some questions to see if you are eligible for the services of an
attorney at public expense. You will probably be asked to make a sworn
statement as to your inability to afford a private attorney.
Release After Arrest
Except for an arrest to an extremely serious offense, e.g. capital
offenses, the Connecticut and United States Constitution provide that in all criminal
prosecutions the accused shall have aright to be released on an amount of bail which is
sufficient to assure your appearance in court. Bail is generally defined in
some type or amount of security that releases the arrested person and insures that
person's future attendance in court.
If you are arrested for a less serious offense, for example a
misdemeanor where the penalty may be one year or less in jail, the police officer may give
you written summons and complaint and allow a less restrictive form of release, such as a
promise to appear or a non - surety bond, and give you specific date to appear in
court. If you are arrested on amore serious offense, such as a felony, which is
punishable by more than a year in jail, or if the police officer feels that you will not
appear in court, the officer will take you to the police station. At the
station, the police officer may use any of the forms of release procedures outlined below.
Types of release procedures are as follows :
- Written Promise To Appear In Court
A. with non-financial conditional
B. without conditions
This allows arrested person to be released upon their
that they will appear in a court the specific date scheduled.
- Non - Surety Bond
This is a promise by you to pay a specified amount if you fail to
appear at court on your scheduled trial date.
- Surety Bond
This is a specific monetary amount set to insure your appearance
in court on a specific date. This specific amount of money can be posted to
insure your release. This amount may be paid by cash posted by you, your
relatives or friends. If your relatives or friends cannot provide enough money
to meet the amount of money of the surety bond, you may contact a professional
bondperson(s) to provide surety for that amount. The bondperson(s) charges a
fee for posting of the bond. The amount of fee is established by
law. The bondperson(s) may also require some type of security for posting of
that bond, such as a car, house or other property. Names of bondperson(s) are
available at the police station and you have the right to contact one.
These methods of release are available to insure your release
at the police station. If at the police station, the police do not release you
on a promise to appear in court, a non-surety bond, or you cannot obtain funds or a
bondperson(s) to post a surety bond, you then have a right to be interviewed by a bail
commissioner. The are required by statute to notify the bail commissioner of your
inability to post the bond set by them. The bail commissioner is a court
employee whose job it is to afford arrested persons an opportunity to be released from
jail if unable to post the bond set by the police, provided that he or she is convinced
that you will appear in court. He or she can recommend that the police change
their decision and release you on a promise to appear, a non surety-bond or a surety bond
in a smaller amount. The bail commissioner's recommendation is still subject to
being overruled by a state's attorney if challenged by the police. The bail commissioner
can also leave the police's decision the same if he or she thinks it is
reasonable. Since the bail commissioner is a state employee, you do not have to
pay a fee.
You cannot be denied bail under our Constitution. This
means that, if the police or the bail commissioner do not release you on a promise to
appear or a non-surety bond, then they must then set an amount for a surety.
If, after the bail commissioner's interview, you still cannot meet
the terms of release, you will be held at the police station and brought before the court
on the next available day for a review of bond. There are procedures
established to conduct a review of the circumstances of your arrest as they relate to the
bond set by the police or the bail commissioner. You will not appear before the
court if it is within this non-court session review.
Once before the court, you or your attorney can present to the
court to reduce the amount of the surety bond or allow you to be released upon the promise
to appear or non-surety bond. The factors which the police, bail commissioner,
and the court consider in your release decision are:
- Your Tie to the Community
(This means how long you have lived
in the area, whether you have a steady job, a family and similar matters. These
will give the police, bail commissioner or court an indication as to whether you will
appear in court);
- Whether the Safety of any Other Person will be Endangered by your
- Nature of the Offense With Which You are Charged;
- Your Prior Criminal Record; and
- Your Prior Record of Appearances in Court.
the Connecticut Legislature has adopted a preventative detention law that authorizes a
judge to revoke your existing bail and deny you bail under certain circumstances.
In certain circumstances, the court may allow you, your relatives
or friends to post 10 % of the bond with the clerk's office. This amount of
money is returnable at the conclusion of the case as long as you appear for each court
date. In addition, the court may allow you to post real estate as security for
your release. These procedures are only available with the courts approval, and
the posting of a real estate bond usually requires the assistance of an attorney.
No matter how you are released, if you do not appear in court, a
warrant for your arrest will be issued and you can be charged with an additional crime of
failure to appear. If you do not appear in court and you have posted a bond,
you or the bondperson(s) may have to pay the amount of the bond to the state.
Your Appearance In Court
Your first appearance in the court is called an arraignment, at
which time you have the right to have an attorney represent you. If you do not have
an attorney at that time, the prosecutor or the judge will continue your case to allow you
obtain counsel. If you are unable to afford an attorney, you should seek out
the Public Defender's Office which is staffed with attorney's. If you
financially qualify for their services, the court will appoint a public defender as your
attorney. Th fee for the Public Defender's services is twenty-five dollars
($25.00) which fees can be waived under certain circumstances. While at the
courthouse, use caution when speaking to anybody about the case, because anything you say
to anyone except your attorney can be used against you.
For those people who have never been convicted (found guilty) of a
crime, there are a number of programs available for first-time
offenders. Please be advised that all of these diversionary programs are
discretionary with the court after a hearing on the case. You may, therefore,
wish to consult with an attorney before applying for a particular program. The
following four (4) programs represent some, but not all, of these pretrial diversionary
- Alcohol Education Program
If you are charged with Operating While Under the Influence of
Alcohol or Drugs, and you have never been convicted of Operating Under the Influence in
Connecticut or any other state and you have never previously used the Alcohol Education
Program, then you may be eligible for the Alcohol Education Program. This is a
one year program with required classes and possible counseling. A non
refundable fee is required to participate in this program. If this program is
successfully completed, the charges will be dismissed.
- Accelerated Rehabilitation
If you are charged with a crime(s)
not of a serious nature, and you have never been convicted of a crime in this state or any
other state and have not utilized certain other diversionary programs, you may be eligible
for the Accelerated Pretrial Rehabilitation Program, which is a pretrial program, carrying
a period of probation of up to two (2) years. A non-refundable fee is required to
participate in this program. If successfully completed, the charge(s) will be
- Family Violence Education Program
If you are charged with a domestic violence offense, you should
check with the Family Relations Office in order to determine whether you qualify for the
Family Violence Education Program, a program of up to two (2) years with an education
component, which could keep you from a criminal record if successfully completed.
With respect to any of these programs, it is solely within the discretion of the
judge hearing your case as to whether or not you are a suitable candidate for the
particular program and you may wish to have an attorney represent you. All
three programs, if granted and thereafter successfully completed, enables the defendant to
apply for dismissal of the charges. However, once you have used a particular
program, you are forever barred from using it again.
- Community Service Labor Program
If you are charged with the
possession of marijuana or possession of narcotics, and you have never before been
convicted of certain drug offenses, then you may be eligible for the Community Service
Labor Program. If granted, the applicant must agree to perform community service
with an approved, non-profit charitable organization. If the program is
successfully completed, the possession charge will be dismissed. There is a
limitation on the availability of this program.
- Youthful Offender Status
If you are a youth between the ages of 16 and 17, you may be
eligible for Youthful Offender Status. If adjudged a youthful offender, you
would not be convicted of a "crime". You could, however, be committed to prison
and / or pay a fine for being a Youthful Offender. If you successfully completed a
court imposed sentences as a Youthful Offender, the court may erase the record of your
arrest and prosecution when you reach age 21.
RECORD OF ARREST
If you are found not guilty of a charge for which you are
arrested, or the charge is dismissed by the court, the law requires that all records of
your arrest and prosecution be "erased" twenty (20) days after the dismissal.
This does not mean the records are destroyed, but the clerk of the court and the
police may not give information about your arrest to anyone. If the prosecutor
"nolles" a charge for which you where arrested (that is, if he or she decides
not to prosecute the case), all records of your arrest are also "erased," but
not until 13 months after the nolle has entered.
This pamphlet, prepared by the Connecticut Bar Association, is based
upon Connecticut law in effect at the time of its publication and is intended for general
information purposes only. It is issued as a public service and is not a
substitute for obtaining legal advice from a Connecticut Attorney.
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