What To Do When You’re Arrested

We don’t do criminal law here at Shannon Law, but that doesn’t mean we’re not committed to helping you out with some basic legal thoughts about how to handle your arrest.

The first, most important, piece of advice comes from Jim Carrey in Liar Liar:

Assuming you don’t follow that advice and you find yourself in handcuffs (or you didn’t break the law, but find yourself in handcuffs anyway), the next thing to do is stay calm. Don’t fight the officer. Don’t yell at the officer. Usually, the police don’t have to immediately tell you why you’re being arrested, so don’t look like an idiot and demand that they do. Just stay calm and follow the officer’s instructions.

While you are staying calm, do this: SHUT UP! After you shut up, shut up some more. As Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson said, “any lawyer worth his salt will tell the suspect in no uncertain terms to make no statement to the police under any circumstances.” There is literally nothing you can say that will help your case.

“But I want to say something,” you protest. OK. OK. You can say two things: first, you can state your identification (or, even easier, give the police your ID). The second thing you can and should say is: “Officer, I do not want to talk to you. I want to speak to my attorney.”

The next words you say — no matter how long you have to wait — will be to the attorney of your choosing. (I’d suggest Richard McCue at 608–295–4522 or Scott Schroeder at 608–752–2555). Once you tell him or her that you haven’t said anything, your attorney will be very happy with you (and even happier once you put a retainer down) and you’ll be in the best position to defend yourself in court.