Being arrested is a horrifying experience. One is ripped from their expected day, shackled, thrown into a squad car, processed, finger printed and finally, left in a jail cell with people also having their worst day. However, it is important to know that, even though being arrested makes one feel powerless, the arrested do, in fact, still have rights.
An arrest officially occurs when one is taken into custody by police for questioning related to a criminal offense. A citizen can also make an arrest if they witness a crime and see the suspect trying to escape.
Questioning without an arrest
One may be questioned by the police without being under arrest. Anyone can be questioned in a public space by an officer, if the officer has sufficient reason. The officer may similarly ask a person to exit their vehicle while investigation a traffic or vehicular violation. Of course, Mississippians have not duty to respond to these questions.
After the arrest
After being arrested, the police are authorized to search the arrested individual, anything that person is carrying and that person’s immediate area. A search warrant may give the police the authority to search other property as well. If someone refuses police admittance or no one answers the door where the search warranted was granted, the police can break into that building to conduct their search.
The officer must then inform the arrested person of their rights. These rights include the right to remain silent, to telephone his attorney or family, to know that anything said can and will be used against him in court, to have an attorney present during questioning or a line up and to have the court appoint an attorney, if the suspect cannot afford one. And, if the suspect waives the right to an attorney, they can still request one later.
Use of force
No one should use force against the police to prevent or resist an arrest or search. This is true even if it is clear that one’s rights are being violated. Instead, call attention to the rights violation, and call an attorney as soon as one is able. Remember, one can avoid the time, but they will never avoid the ride.
The takeaway though should that for Meridian, Mississippi, residents that are arrested, call an attorney immediately. Remain silent, and request an attorney. Once consulting an attorney, one can then decide how to proceed.