Being arrested in Georgia can be a very traumatic and scary event. Most people are completely unprepared for what is happening and what is to come. Understanding the Georgia arrest process and the steps to follow can prohibit some costly mistakes. Taking the time to learn your own rights now can save you down the road.
What Does it Mean to Be Arrested in Georgia?
The first thing to know is exactly what an arrest in Georgia is. An arrest begins long before an officer tells you that you are under arrest. The Georgia arrest process begins with law enforcement knowing, or at least having reason to believe, that you are guilty of a criminal offense. There are several different ways that can lead to someone being taken into custody including a criminal investigation resulting in a warrant for your arrest, an arrest warrant for known or alleged crimes (e.g. failure to appear, parole violations, etc.), an interaction with a law enforcement officer which leads to reasonable suspicion or proof of criminal activity, or a wanted person voluntarily surrenders.
What to Do When Getting Arrested?
Following the arrest, there are several things that you should know. First, in Georgia, you are required to provide your Driver’s License, Vehicle Registration, and Proof of Insurance at any traffic stop. Apart from those details, you have the right to remain silent. This is your Constitutional right as presented in the 5th Amendment which protects you from self-incrimination. To put it simply, apart from supplying your license, registration, and insurance, you do not have to answer any further questions asked by law enforcement. Any time you lie to an officer, hide, or destroy evidence, you are likely to face an “obstruction” charge in addition to the primary charge. Second, you should immediately comply with all orders from the officers. Any action that can be interpreted as hindering the arrest process will likely be considered “resisting arrest,” another charge that can be added to the primary reason for your arrest.
During the arrest itself, Georgia Legal Aid suggests the following: “Tell the police nothing, except your name, age, and address. Don’t give explanations or stories or try to excuse the conduct. If you can’t pay for a lawyer, you have the right to a free one. Don’t talk to the police unless your lawyer is present. Keep in mind that lying to a government official is a crime but remaining silent until you consult with a lawyer is not. Even if you have already answered some questions, you can refuse to answer other questions until you have a lawyer.”
After the Arrest in Georgia
Following the arrest in Georgia, you will be taken to the proper booking facility, typically jail, but if you have major injuries, the hospital or treatment facility. The booking process involves entering personal identification information, supplying fingerprints, and taking mugshot photos. After the booking process is complete, you will be permitted to make one phone call. This should be to a family member or friend who can get in contact with a bail bondsman. Then you will remain in custody until you post bail or the judge orders your release.
The next step should involve finding and hiring a lawyer. In the case that you cannot afford one, you will have access to a free public attorney. However, finding an experienced lawyer that is genuinely interested in helping your case can easily be the determining factor in the outcome of your case.
Let Phillips & Sellers Help Your Case
Phillips & Sellers Attorneys at Law have over 22 years of experience in criminal law proceedings. Being arrested in Georgia can be a scary experience, so let us walk you through every step of the way. Contact our office today to consult a qualified professional.