What is the Arrest Procedure?
Most arrests for a criminal case happen before the arrestee has retained a Tennessee criminal attorney. Most of the time it comes as a complete surprise, and the arrestee is not prepared for it. This can make the initial process following the arrest frightening. If you don’t know what’s going on and don’t have an attorney to explain it to you, you may begin to feel overwhelmed. This is why it is helpful to consult with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney as soon as you can.
There are usually three steps in the beginning of a criminal case against a defendant:
- Arrest of the defendant by the police
- Filing of a complaint against the defendant by the prosecutor’s office
- Initial appearance before a judge or magistrate by the defendant
Because the arrest usually happens without any prior warning, defendants usually don’t have legal representation during or immediately after the arrest. This is why it is important to heed the Miranda warnings the police recite and remain silent. In some cases, a defendant may have some idea that they are under investigation (such as in white-collar crimes) and may have retained an attorney already, but this is rare.
After the police take the defendant into custody, they will typically transport the arrestee to a local precinct or stationhouse for booking. This means the police will identify, photograph, and fingerprint the arrestee and conduct searches to determine if the arrestee already has a prior criminal record. They will also want to find out information such as immigration status, employment status, residence, and health. This is all standard procedure but is usually done without an attorney present. This information will be used by the prosecutor to draft the charging documents, or “complaint.”
Once the defendant is booked, he or she will usually be held at the stationhouse or released on bail with a notice to appear at the courthouse. If the arrest was for a minor offense, the police may instead simply release the defendant with a citation instead of going through the full booking process.