What Happens When I'm Arrested?

When you get arrested the police will put handcuffs on you and place you in the back of a police car. They then take you to a local police station in the city or town where you were arrested. If you are being arrested by the State Police, they will take you to their barracks.

Once you get to a police station, depending on the crime alleged, officers will begin the process of booking you, or processing the paperwork for the crime that is alleged against you.

What happens when I'm booked?

First, the booking officer will make sure you are not injured or in distress. If you are injured or distressed, this will be addressed with some basic first aid. Officers may also call in a medical professional to administer aid. In some cases they will take you to a hospital for treatment. Rest assured that the police have training to adequately address your medical concerns. Oftentimes spouses, friends, or parents of people taken into custody are worried. Will the police know if a person needs medication or has a serious illness? The police will identify and ensure that any proper treatment or medication is provided during the booking process.

As part of the booking process, the police will

  • Begin to take your fingerprints.
  • If you are charged with an OUI, you will be given the option to see if your blood-alcohol content is over the legal limit.
  • The booking officer will also take your picture, or your mug shot.

What happens when the police ask me questions?

At this point the police may choose to begin an interrogation of a person. Before any interrogation occurs, the person in custody will be issued what are known as Miranda Rights. The police will ask you if you will or will not talk to the police about what is being alleged. The police will either record that statement or video tape it or both. Once they process you, they will then place you in a holding cell, which is a jail cell inside the police station. You will be fed while you are in custody.

How is bail determined?

At that point, police will take you to a local courthouse to arraign you before a judge, if the courthouse is open. If court is not open, you will stay at the police station until you are bailed out by a magistrate. Anytime you are arrested, the police will contact a bail magistrate to determine if you should be bailed out or if bail should even be set. At a minimum, a bail magistrate will charge $50 to determine if you should be bailed.

If the magistrate releases you on some bail or on an amount of bail you can afford, you will be given a form by a magistrate that tells you where and when to show up for your next court date. If the magistrate sets no bail or a bail amount that you cannot afford, the police department will be tasked to take you to court the next day for your arraignment. At that point, the judge will determine what conditions, if any, will be required for your release at your arraignment.

What happens at an arraignment?

Your first appearance in court is called arraignment. It is your first day in criminal court. You have arrived at an arraignment because you were either:

  1. Arrested the night before and brought to court by police
  2. Mailed a summons (notice) to appear on a certain date

The first thing that occurs on an arraignment date is that you meet with a probation officer or representative from the probation office. The purpose of this meeting is simply to take basic financial information from you and some other background data. If you are arrested and are waiting in a jail cell at the courthouse, someone from the probation department will talk to you while you sit in the jail cell. They will ask you questions and leave. If you were not arrested and arrive at court because you received notice in the mail, then you should find the probation department so they can interview you.

Normally, when you receive notice to appear in court for an arraignment, the notice will instruct you to first go to the probation department. However, people often overlook that instruction and simply wait in the courtroom. People frequently forget this step and simply walk into the courtroom and wait for their case to be called. However, if you do not do this first step, the court will not call your case.

Always remember to check with probation. Once you have completed that step, you go to the courtroom and wait for your case to be called before the judge. This process can take hours, so be patient. Once the case is called, you will walk up to a designated place in the court before the judge. Your attorney will be next to you. You are about to begin the arraignment. Again, an arraignment simply means being notified of the charges against you. And sometimes, it is that simple. The court informs you of the charges and you leave and get ready for the next court date.

What happens when there is no bail?

In this case, the process is straightforward and simple. You walk up to the judge with an attorney and the judge informs you of the charges. A pretrial conference is the next date. That pre-trial date is usually 4-6 weeks after the arraignment.

What happens when there are conditions of release?

Conditions of release could include:

  • Random drug screens
  • Random alcohol screens
  • Daily reporting to probation department
  • Mental health evaluations
  • Stay away orders from witnesses and/or accuser
  • GPS monitoring bracelet

If the court orders any of these conditions, you will immediately sign a contract to agree to these conditions. Upon signing the agreement, you will meet with the probation department, which will oversee the court orders while the case is working its way through the court process. Occasionally, conditions can be modified as the case proceeds, but if not, they remain in effect until the conclusion of the case. These restrictions can be argued to the judge as to why they may not be necessary. It is important to be prepared to whether the conditions should or shouldn’t be imposed since the client will be stuck with them until the case concludes. That is why it is important to meet with an attorney before your arraignment so they can learn about you and your background.

What happens when there is cash bail?

Monetary bail is a specific amount of money that you pay that the court holds to guarantee that you come back to every court appearance. This means that the court requires you to give them money to hold before you can leave court that day. The court holds your money until the charge is resolved. That means you have to have an amount of cash ready to provide the clerk of the court or you do not leave the court. Your attorney will provide your background and history to the judge and argue that you should not be held on bail.|

What happens when there is a 58A Dangerousness Petition?

A 58A is a hearing where the district attorney believes that based on your history, background, and the charges against you that you pose a danger to and there are no conditions of release that can assure the safety of the community. You will be handcuffed, placed in cell, and taken to a local house of correction for a minimum of three days before the hearing can be held. This is the most concerning outcome, because they are taking your liberty and putting you in a cell. This is more common with domestic assault and battery and domestic violence, especially strangulation.

What happens when the charges are dismissed?

Sometimes the judge dismisses the charges. This does not happen often. It depends on the defendant’s record or criminal history. This only occurs with very minor charges, for example:

  • Drinking in public,
  • Driving without a license
  • Driving with an expired registration
  • Trespassing

But even then, in cases like these, you should proceed with caution before you go without an attorney. Sometimes negotiation and diversion resolves cases before arraignment. Both alternatives are beneficial since they never appear on your criminal record. In Massachusetts, a dismissed case appears on your criminal record. No matter how insignificant, we never want any trace of criminal activity on your record. Lastly, sometimes the pressure of appearing in court on something relatively simple results in accepting something that you would not otherwise have to do. This could include money that you would not otherwise have to pay. It is always better to go into court with an experienced lawyer at your side.



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