The Arrest Process in New York
by Susan Chana Lask
When you're arrested, your first contact will be with the local police precinct. The person who arrests you is the "arresting officer."
The arrest process can legally take up to three days (72 hours) before you see a judge for arraignment. Throughout this process, you must remain silent about everything, except you can give basic information such as your name, residence, and other identifying information. But do not speak about anything else to anyone, even the person who might be in the cell with you. Always remain silent until your attorney speaks with you because anything you say to anyone at this point can and will be used against you.
At the precinct, a detective will interview you to get basic information (like your full name, present address and family member contact information) and possibly try to get information from you to use as evidence against you. Do not say anything except give your basic identification. The detective may ask you for contact information of your family or friends who can verify who you are and where you live. If you provide your home number or other numbers then the arresting officer may call your family or friends to verify your information. He may even ask further information about you that may incriminate you later. You should be careful what numbers you give out and at least call the person who you may refer to the police first and let them know just to verify who you are and nothing else.
While you are at the precinct, the police will definitely run a check on you to discover if you committed other crimes or if outstanding warrants exist for your arrest. This information is also needed for the arresting officer to fill out the paperwork to get you through the arrest process and to the arraignment court.
The police will fingerprint you and take arrest photos. Then the arresting officer will make a file for you from the information he obtains from you, prints, photos and his notes. He will then fax the file to the District Attorney's office so they can draft a criminal complaint against you and assign your case file a docket number.
You'll sit in the precinct jail cell an average of six hours until they can arrange transportation for you to another place called "Central Booking." Whenever they transport you they will handcuff you, so be prepared to cooperate and go through the motions.
At Central Booking
The Central Booking process can take about four hours. You'll wait in line with hundreds of other arrested persons to get to an interview table. At the interview table an intake person will ask you about any health problems you may have and more identifying information, including:
- Persons to contact
- With whom you live
- Where you work
- Your salary
- Your citizenship status
- Where you were born
This information will later be used by your arraignment judge to determine if bail is required and the amount of bail you will pay. If you do not have any contacts in the state or locally or you travel a lot or are not a citizen of this country then you most likely will have to pay bail because you will be considered a "flight risk".
The best thing you can do is get an attorney to meet you at your arraignment. You can do this at Central Booking, where there are pay phones. Call an attorney, or call your family, friends or anyone else who can get you an attorney that day. That call will be short because there are hundreds of other people waiting to use the phone. Just tell whomever you call:
- The precinct you came from
- Where you are now
- The charges against you or what you believe you were arrested for
- To get as much cash as possible
- To bring proof of home ownershi, like a deed
- To contact at least three bail bondsmen from the phone book in the area you were arrested in (in order to arrange for bail quickly)
With your arrest location, precinct information and last name, a good attorney will be able to track you down using special contact numbers to the District Attorney's office and Central Booking (where your arrest number and docket number can be obtained).
At some point you and a group of about 10 others from your cell will be brought upstairs. This means the District Attorney finished the paperwork and assigned a "docket number" to your file so you can be arraigned. If your attorney has been tracking you through the system then he or she will know when to start traveling to the arraignment court to appear for you so you do not have to wait longer.
This article is certainly not all inclusive and is intended only as a brief explanation of the legal issue presented. Not all cases are alike and it is strongly recommended that you consult an attorney if you have any questions with respect to any legal matters.
Any questions and/or comments with respect to this topic or any other topic, please call or write:
Law Offices of Susan Chana Lask
853 Broadway, Suite 1516
New York, NY 10003
©2004 Susan Chana Lask All Rights Reserved
Susan Chana Lask is a New York attorney with law offices in New York
City. She has over 20 years experience and practices in State, Federal and Appellate Courts nationwide, handling civil, criminal and commercial litigation and appeals. She represents high profile cases and appears on all major
television, print and radio news media, earning the title "High-Powered" New York attorney.