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You’ve Been Arrested — Now What?

Being taken into custody by the police can be emotionally and physically overwhelming, especially if it’s a first-time encounter with law enforcement. Learning about the arrest process beforehand can make some sense out of this unnerving experience.

What Happens Next?

Although no two arrests are exactly alike, most arrests will follow a similar procedure. The process of an arrest can be thought of like this:

The Arrest

If a police officer has a reasonable suspicion that someone has committed a crime, they may place that person into custody. This usually involves placing the person in handcuffs and putting them into a police squad car. They will then be taken to the nearest police precinct for booking.


At the precinct, the arrested person’s information will be recorded and their fingerprints and photograph will be taken. It is at this point that the outcome of the incident will be determined based on the facts of their case.


If the person presents valid identification, cooperates with the police and is only being held on minor charges they may be released on their own recognizance. They are not off the hook for their crime but they are generally considered trustworthy enough to be released until their court date.

If this type of release is not allowed, the person may be allowed to post bail. To do this, they will have to contact a friend, relative or lawyer. Most people are allowed to make a few phone calls after being processed at the precinct and there will be usually be a pay phone available for any additional calls.


If the crime is serious, the arrested person may be questioned by the police. If the person has been read his or her Miranda rights, they are not required to answer any questions. In fact, many people will use their Miranda rights to request counsel with a lawyer even if they can’t afford one.


If a person can’t post bail, they may be transported to jail where they will wait until the judge agrees to release them or until they appear in court.

If you or someone you know has been arrested, contact Sharp and Driver at 713-223-8900.