What do I do if I am arrested?
If you are not free to leave the scene and are placed into custody, you have certain statutory and constitutional rights that come into play. Without being arrested, you can be detained, or held a short time for questioning without actually being arrested. During either time you do have rights. However, you must provide the officer with your name, address, and identification if you are under arrest or short-term detention.
Note: The place to question the correctness of a stop, detention, and/or arrest is not on the street with the officer, but in the court with your attorney. If you fail to comply with the officer's investigation you can be charged and arrested for resisting arrest and/or failure to provide identification even if you are never charged for the original offense for which you were detained or arrested.
- What is a Miranda warning?
A Miranda warning advises people of their constitutional right not to answer questions or to have an attorney present before answer any questions.
- If I am not under arrest, do I have to answer a police officer`s questions?
No. Unless you are placed under arrest you are free to leave at any time. However, if a police officer stops you while you are walking, and asks you for identification, it is probably in your best interest to provide such information. The courts have allowed police officers to detain people for extended periods of time in an effort to determine the identity of the individual.
EXAMPLE: Tommy is walking down the street and approached by Officer Doright. Officer Doright begins to question Tommy about a bank robbery that happened a few days ago. The conversation looks like this:
Officer Doright: Hey, excuse me, I would like to ask you a few questions.
Tommy: um, ok, what is this about?
Officer Doright: I`m investigating a robbery that happened a few days ago, I thought you might be able to give me some information.
Tommy: I just got back in town today from Europe, I really don`t think that I can help.
Officer Doright You just got back, that`s interesting, you fit the description of the robber that the bank teller provided.
Tommy: Excuse me Officer, am I under arrest?
Officer Doright: Umm, well no, but if you have something to say, I promise to help you out.
Tommy: No thanks Officer, you have a nice day. Tommy then continues with his walk home from the airport.
- Must a police officer always advise a person of their Miranda rights before asking a question?
No. The Miranda warning is only in effect during a custodial interrogation. This means that the person being questioned is in custody or in an environment in which the person does not believe that he is free to leave.
For example: Officer Jones is investigating a robbery at the local supermarket. The cashier indicates that a patron named Mary Smith may have seen the robber. When Officer Jones interviews Mary, Mary makes statements implicating herself in the robbery as a lookout. Can Mary`s statements be used against her later, even though she was not read her Miranda Warning? The answer is yes, because Mary was not in custody when she was being asked the questions. Therefore, Mary was free to leave if she wanted to.
- If I am in custody, how do I assert my right to remain silent?
A suspect who has been arrested need only say I want to speak with an attorney or I have nothing to say now. If the police continue to question the suspect, the police have violated the suspect`s 5th Amendment rights. Anything that the suspect says after the violation is inadmissible as evidence in court.
- Can I waive my Miranda rights?
Yes. If you have been arrested, and you have been given your Miranda warning, then anything that you say can and will be used against you in court.
- But the police officer said that if I talked, he would help me out.
This is something police officers always say. Police officers have no control over what happens to you after you have been arrested. The determination of what you will be charged with, and how you will be sentenced, is up to the prosecutor and the presiding judge.
Bail Bond Overview
- What are the release options?
(These may vary by state, this is only intended as a general educational outline)
This procedure involves the issuance of a citation by the arresting officer to the defendant, informing the defendant that he or she must appear at an appointed court date. The citation is usually issued immediately after an individual is arrested. This method is often used for minor offenses.
Release on your own recognizance allows for release from custody without bail money or bond.
This is usually administered through a court administered release program. The administrators of these programs generally interview individuals in custody and make recommendations to the court regarding release of these individuals on their court appearances. Since no money or bond is posted to secure the defendant`s appearance in court, he or she faces no personal financial hardship from his or her failure to appear. You`re on your honor to return for all of the scheduled court appearances. If the defendant fails to appear at a scheduled court appearance, a bench warrant is issued and the court will most likely require bail when the warrant is executed.
To be released on cash bail, the individual must post with the court the cash amount of the bail to secure his or her return to court on the set times and dates until the case is concluded. If the defendant shows up for the scheduled court appearances, the cash is returned to them. If the defendant fails to appear, the cash bond is forfeited, or given up, to the court.
A surety bond involves a contract with a bondsman (also know as a bond agent or bail agent) for the bail amount. The bondsman, usually being underwritten by an insurance company licensed by the state, interviews the arrested individual, family members and the final bond guarantor prior to forming an agreement to assure that the accused will appear in court. With his money on the line, a bondsman has a financial interest in supervising defendant`s and to make certain that they appear for trial. If a defendant fails to appear, the bail agent has time and the financial incentive to find that individual and bring them in. Simply stated, bondsmen profit only when the defendant shows up for trial.
Bonds are usually written for a premium percentage of the bail`s full amount. Collateral from the guarantor is then used to secure the remaining bail amount. The bondsman guarantees to the court that they will pay the bond forfeiture if a defendant fails to appear for their scheduled court appearances. Using the assets and property of the bondsman`s insurance makes this guarantee.
A defendant occasionally may obtain release from custody by means of posting a property bond. In this procedure the court records a lien on property owned by the defendant to secure the amount of bail. If the defendant fails to appear at a scheduled court date, the court may institute foreclosure proceedings against that property to obtain the bail amount.
Your own recognizance:
Release on your “own recognizance” gets you out of jail without bail money or bond. You’re on your honor to return for the court proceedings. If you fail to return for trial, a bench warrant is issued; but you suffer no financial hardship. In order to determine your eligibility for an “own recognizance” release, a court administrator or judge will interview you while you’re in custody. Many times this interview is even conducted over the phone. The interview provides the information an official needs to make a recommendation to the court. While this recommendation is important, high volumes of requests permit little time to perform background searches and verify the information provided by you. An “own recognizance” release protects your right to due process. If you’re unable to make bail, this release can allow you to return to employment and regular living while awaiting trial. For additional information on an “own recognizance” release, contact an attorney in your area.
- What is Bail?
The term Bail is used in several distinct senses: (1) It may mean the security—cash or bond—given for the appearance of the prisoner. (2) It may mean the bondsman (i.e., the person who acts as surety for the defendant`s appearance, and into whose custody the defendant is released). (3) As a verb, it may refer to the release of the defendant (he was bailed out). The first meaning is the most common and should be employed for clarity. Admission to bail is the order of a competent court that the defendant be discharged from actual custody upon bail. The discharge on bail is accomplished by the taking of bail (i.e., the acceptance by the court or magistrate of security—either an undertaking or deposit—for the appearance of the defendant before a court for some part of the criminal proceeding). Bail is evidenced by a bond or recognizance, which ordinarily becomes a record of the court. The bond is in the nature of a contract between the state on one side and the defendant and his sureties on the other. The agreement basically is that the state will release the defendant from custody the sureties will undertake that the defendant will appear at a specified time and place to answer the charge made against him. If the defendant fails to appear, the sureties become the absolute debtor of the state for the amount of the bond.
- When talking about bail, what do you mean by the term undertaking?
An undertaking is a permissible type of bail security. The taking of bail consists of a competent court accepting an undertaking of sufficient security for the appearance of the defendant, according to the terms, or the surety will pay a specified sum to the state. Corporate sureties are commonly used, and the court will accept an admitted surety insurer`s bail bond if executed by the insurer`s licensed bail agent and issued in the insurer`s name by an authorized person.
- Must you always use a bail bondsman?
The defendant, or any other person, may deposit the sum mentioned in the bail order or bail schedule. Cash is accepted, and it is the practice for each court to adopt a written policy permitting acceptance of checks or money orders, upon conditions that tend to assure their validity, in payment of bail deposits. Some courts have a maximum amount over which a personal check will not be accepted. Depending upon the jurisdiction, government bonds may be accepted.
- What if someone believes that the money to be used to bail someone out is the product of criminal activity?
The judge or a magistrate may stay the release of a defendant if a peace officer or prosecutor files a sworn declaration demonstrating probable cause to believe the source of the consideration, etc. was feloniously obtained, or the judge or magistrate has probable cause to believe the source was feloniously obtained. If probably cause exists, the defendant then bears the burden by a preponderance of evidence to prove that no part of the source was so obtained. A defendant who prevails must be released on issuance of a bail bond as specified.
- What is the purpose of bail?
The purpose of bail is to assure the attendance of the defendant, when his or her presence is required in court, whether before or after conviction. Bail is not a means of punishing a defendant, nor should there be a suggestion of revenue to the government.
- Is bail a matter of right?
Although the right to bail has constitutional recognition in the prohibition against excessive bail, bail is not always a matter of right. However, with certain exceptions a defendant charged with a criminal offense shall be released on bail. Persons charged with capital crimes when the facts are evident or the presumption great, are excepted from the right to release on bail. However, a defendant charged with a capital crime is entitled to a bail hearing in the trial court to determine whether the facts are evident or the presumption great. A crime is a capital offense if the statute makes it potentially punishable by death, even if the prosecutor has agreed not to seek the death penalty. It is presumed that the risk of flight of the defendant is great when he or she is facing death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
- Is the Public Safety considered in the decision to admit a defendant to bail, or to deny Bail?
Bail can be denied in certain non-capital cases based upon a finding of substantial likelihood of harm to others. When the facts are evident or the presumption great, bail may be denied in the following instances; in felony cases involving acts of violence, or felony sexual assault offenses on another person, if the court finds on clear and convincing evidence that there is a substantial likelihood that the release of the accused would result in great bodily harm to others. In a felony case, if the court finds on clear and convincing evidence that the accused has threatened another with great bodily harm, and that there is a substantial likelihood that the accused would carry out the threat if released. The requirement of findings based on clear and convincing evidence implies that a hearing will be held on the issue. There the existence of a substantial likelihood of harm must be determined on the basis of the specific circumstances of the case. The decision to grant or deny bail is subject to review on petition by the defendant.
- What is considered by the Court in fixing the amount of the bail?
The amount of the bail is primarily within the discretion of the judge or magistrate, with only two general limitations: First: The purpose of bail is not to punish, but only to secure the appearance of the defendant, and it should be fixed with that in mind. Second: Excessive bail, not warranted by the circumstances. Is not only improper but a violation of constitutional rights. In fixing the amount of the bail, the court takes into consideration the seriousness of the charge, the defendant`s previous criminal record, and the probability of the defendant appearing at the trial or hearing. Additionally, if public safety is an issue, the court may make an inquiry where it may consider allegations of injury to the victim, threats to the victim or a witness, the use of a deadly weapon, and the defendant`s use or possession of controlled substances. A judge or magistrate setting bail in other than a scheduled or usual amount must state on the record the reasons and address the issue of threats made against a victim or a witness. The court must also consider evidence offered by the detained person regarding ties to the community and ability to post bond.
- Does the bail bond continue forever, can you get it back?
When the bail has served its purpose, the surety will be exonerated (i.e., released from the obligation). Exoneration normally occurs when the proceeding is terminated in some way or on the return of the defendant to custody. After conviction, the defendant appears for sentence. If sentenced to imprisonment the defendant is committed to the custody of the sheriff, and the liability of the surety terminates.
- What if the defendant is sentenced to probation?
A defendant who is convicted and given probation is released from custody, and the bail must be exonerated.
- What if the defendant absconds?
The surety or depositor may arrest the defendant, or authorize and agent to do so for the purpose of surrendering him into custody to ensure his future appearance. This extraordinary power of the bail bondsman is of ancient origin. When bail is given, the principal is regarded as delivered to the custody of his sureties. Their dominion is a continuance of the original imprisonment. Whenever they choose to do so, they may seize him and deliver him up in their discharge, and if that cannot be done at once, they may imprison him until it can be done. They may exercise their rights in person or by agent. They may pursue him into another state; may arrest him on the Sabbath; and if necessary, may break and enter his house for that purpose. The seizure is not made by virtue of new process. None is needed; it is likened to the re-arrest by the sheriff of an escaping prisoner. The following may be authorized to arrest a bail fugitive: A certified law enforcement officer. A person licensed by the State to do so (i.e., holding a bail license in another state and authorized in writing by the bail or depositor to make the arrest). A person contracted and authorized in writing by the bail or depositor to do so, Bail Fugitive Recovery Person. A private investigator or persons doing the foregoing have been called bounty hunters, yet the term does not fit the facts of today`s world, they are acting under contract.
- In what instances will the bail be forfeited?
A judge must in open court declare forfeited the undertaking of bail, or the money or property deposited as bail, if, without sufficient excuse, a defendant fails to appear for any of the following: (a) arraignment, (b) trial, (c) judgment, (d) any occasion prior to the pronouncement of judgment if the defendant`s presence in court is lawfully required, or if the defendant fails to surrender in execution of the judgment after appeal.
- If the defendant does not appear and the court orders a forfeiture, can it be set aside if he later appears?
A court will sometimes order bail forfeited on the defendant`s nonappearance, then vacate the forfeiture to reinstate the bail when the defendant appears and offers an explanation for the absence. Some instances of this would be the nonappearance because of death, illness, or insanity, or detention by civil or military authorities, and if the absence was not with the connivance of the bail (acquiescence of the bonding company to the absence). An example of illness would be where the defendant is confined to bed by reason of a doctor`s order. If a defendant flees and the prosecuting agency does not seek extradition the bail may be exonerated.
- When can a court order a recommitment?
Despite prior admission to bail the trial court may recommit the defendant to custody in several situations; when the defendant has failed to appear and bail has been forfeited, when the court determines that the surety is dead, insufficient, or has left the state, failure to give bail in an increased amount when ordered, or when the trial has commenced and the judge orders the defendant committed to custody. The right to bail may be terminated at the time of trial in the discretion of the trial judge. The order for recommitment must recite the facts and direct the defendant`s arrest and commitment to custody. If the ground cited is for an offense other than failure to appear for judgment upon conviction and the offense is bailable, the court may fix bail and admit the defendant to bail in the sum fixed.
- If the defendant has absconded, what must the bail fugitive recovery person be able to show? Is that person a bounty hunter?
That he possesses the authority to arrest by virtue of satisfying any licensure requirements a state may impose upon such a person. Additionally, he or she must have in their possession proper documentation of authority to apprehend issued by the bail or depositor, which shall include the name of the individual authorized to apprehend the bail fugitive, the address of the principal office, the name and business address of the bail agency, or other party contracting with the individual authorized to apprehend a bail fugitive. In a historical sense they are a bounty hunter as they generally are contracted to do this and are remunerated for their services by the bail agency or other contracting party. The bounty hunters of old are not the bail fugitive recovery persons of today. Some jurisdictions require significant training and licensure of persons engaged in the recovery of bail absconders.
- What if the underlying criminal charge for which bail was granted is dismissed?
Statutes provide for exoneration of the surety in the event of dismissal. However, there is usually a time period within which the prosecuting agency may seek to re-arrest and charge with a public offense arising out of the same act or omission upon which the action or proceeding was based.
- What about release on one`s own recognizance?
A defendant may be released from custody under his own recognizance if he files with the court or other authorized person a signed release agreement. The agreement must generally include the following: a promise by the defendant to appear at all times and places, as ordered by the court, magistrate, or other person authorized to release the defendant, and as ordered by any court in which, or any magistrate before whom, the charge is subsequently pending; a promise by the defendant not to leave the state without leave of the court; an agreement by the defendant to waive extradition if he fails to appear as is required and is apprehended outside of the state; and an acknowledgement of the defendant that he has been informed of the consequences and penalties applicable to violation of the conditions of release. A trial court`s discretion to impose additional conditions is limited to conditions which are reasonably related to and attempt to insure subsequent court appearances.
- When can bail be increased?
After a defendant has been released, the court in which the charge is pending may require him to give additional bail in an amount specified or to meet an additional condition upon a finding made in open court that the defendant has failed to appear; or that additional facts have been presented that were not shown at the time of the original release order, and the court may order him to commitment unless he or she gives such bail or meets such other conditions.
- What else may happen when a defendant fails to appear?
The court may issue a bench warrant for his apprehension and arrest for the failure to appear upon the underlying charge, which would thus be a separate triable offense, separate and distinct from the original charge. The appropriate agency will enter each bench warrant issued on a private surety—bonded felony case into the national warrant system, the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).
- What is an immigration bond?
An immigration bond issued for delivery of an alien guarantees that the individual will appear for all I.N.S. hearings on time and depart the United States at a specified date. An immigration bond conditioned for maintenance of an alien, guarantees that the person will be financially independent during the time he/she is in the United States.
- What is a bail bond indemnitor?
A bail bond indemnitor is the co-signer for the bail bond. The indemnitor is responsible for seeing that all premiums are paid for a defendant`s bail bond. Bail bonds are normally good for one year. If the case continues for longer than a year, additional premiums will be due and collected for each year the case goes on. Bail bond premiums are not refundable, as they are used for the bail agent`s expenses, etc. The indemnitor is also responsible for additional expenses incurred by the bail agent in the transaction of a bail bond, such as long distance calls, travel, etc. An indemnitor is no longer liable for the defendent`s bond when the defendant has completes all of his/her court appearances, and when all premiums have been paid. It is best to contact the bail agent when the bond is exonerated by the court, for the expedient return of any collateral pledged and to confirm that the bond is exonerated. In the event of forfeiture, the indemnitor is liable until the full amount of the bail has been paid, plus any expenses incurred, or until the court exonerates the bond. The bond then becomes void.
- How does the bail process work?
When an individual is arrested for a crime in most states, that person will be taken to a law enforcement center for booking prior to incarceration. Once arrested and booked, the defendant has several options for release pending the conclusion of the criminal case. The bail system is designed to guarantee the appearance of a criminal defendant in court as directed.
- How much does a bail bond cost?
15% of the bond amount
20% of the bond amount
Anywhere between 10% and 15% of the bond amount, depending on the state in which you live
· Sample cost breakdown for a $10,000 bond:
$1,000 to $1,500
Taser Guns FAQ
- What are Taser guns, and how do they work?
Taser guns (which stands for Thomas A. Swift Electric Rifle), are hand-held weapons that shoot two needle-tipped electric darts about 25 feet. Each time the trigger is pulled, the darts, which connect to electric cables that stay attached to the gun, deliver a 50,000 volt jolt for five seconds. The shot can penetrate up to five centimeters of clothing, and can be activated as many times as needed for the life of the gun’s battery. A Taser gun temporarily immobilizes a person by using pulsing electricity to over-stimulate the nervous system, causing an uncontrollable contraction of the muscle tissue, and incapacitating the subject. An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 people have been shocked by Taser guns during law enforcement confrontations since market availability in 1998.
It is estimated that 7,300 law enforcement agencies and military installations around the world use Taser guns, over 130,000 Taser guns are being used by law enforcement in the United States, and more that 100,000 civilians in the United States own Taser guns. There are two main categories of Taser guns:
- M26 – a high-powered weapon marketed to police forces to stop "highly combative individuals."
- X26 – a less-powerful model introduced in 2003 that is available to the public.
In the United States, Taser guns are not considered firearms and are legal for civilian use in most states. However, some cities, counties and states do restrict, or ban their use by people who are not police officers.
- What are the benefits of Taser guns?
Taser guns are designed to allow police officers to subdue violent individuals without killing them. A police officer can "take down" a threatening suspect without worrying that a stray bullet might kill or injure an innocent bystander. Police officers describe the Taser gun as a safe alternative to brute force when detaining a violent suspect. Taser guns can also be used as cattle prods, but the effect is more isolated and less painful.
- What are the drawbacks of Taser guns? Can they cause serious injuries?
Since they were first issued to police officers in the late 1990s, Taser guns have been involved in dozens of inmate deaths, and more than 50 civilian deaths in the United States. In 1989, a Canadian study found that Taser guns used on farms as cattle prods induced heart attacks in animals. Ten years later, an American study concluded that weapons delivering a jolt weaker than Taser guns increased the risk of cardiac arrest in people with heart conditions. However, according to Taser gun manufacturers, several studies (conducted by the manufacturers) have reportedly found that the high-voltage shock is harmless, and that the deaths associated with Taser gun use are contentious. For example, in July 2005, a Chicago medical examiner ruled that the death of a man in February 2005 was the result of being shot with a Taser gun by Chicago police. Media reports said it was the first time a death had been directly linked to a police Taser gun; however, the medical examiner further ruled that the victim tested positive to high levels of methamphetamine in his system.
Taser gun manufacturers also claim that 100,000 police officers have volunteered to take hits from Taser weapons since their induction – resulting in no injuries, and no deaths. Interest groups such as Amnesty International, however, believe that because of the lack of proper data from independent studies, and insufficient research, Taser gun use should be suspended.
- Can I file a lawsuit if I have suffered injuries from a police officer’s Taser gun?
Yes. If you have sustained Taser gun injuries through police apprehension or misconduct, it is important to contact an attorney who can inform you of your legal rights and your litigation options. You may be entitled to compensation that covers loss of income, medical costs, pain and suffering, and damages awarded for Wrongful Death lawsuits. It is important to note, however, that individual states have statues of limitations that limit how much time victims can initiate legal action. Therefore, contact a qualified attorney who specializes in Taser gun litigation, and understands victim time limits and the legal alternatives available to you.