When a person is arrested, they are taken into custody by law enforcement authorities. There are warrantless arrests, like when a police officer is an eyewitness to a crime, and there are arrests pursuant to warrants issued by judges. Arrests are also made when a police officer has probable cause to believe that a person committed a crime. An arrest cannot be made on a mere hunch though.
There might be times when a person is held in detention for questioning without being charged with a criminal offense. Under those circumstances, they must be charged within 72 hours, not counting weekends or holidays. If not charged within that time span, they must be released. Whether the arrest is with or without a warrant or the person is merely being held for questioning, authorities are required to provide that individual immediately with a statement of their Miranda rights.
During the booking process, personal property is taken, inventoried and retained in a safe place. An inventory receipt is provided. Primary non-incriminatory information such as name, address and birth date is obtained, and photographs along with fingerprints are taken. Depending on the nature of the offense, the arrestee might be released on their recognizance after being booked. They are ordered to appear in court on a particular date, time, and location. If it’s determined that they should be held after booking, the person in custody has the right to make at least one phone call to a friend or family member to arrange for an attorney and/or bail. Bail is a specified sum of money or a cash equivalent in property that is paid to the court as security to assure that the person charged with a crime attends all court proceedings. Should the person not appear in court, any bail posted can be retained by the court with an arrest warrant issuing.
After booking, the case is referred to the prosecutor’s office for a decision on what formal charges will be made. The law does not bind the prosecutor to the initial charge. Charges can be upgraded within a reasonable time or dismissed at any time.
Complex legal issues can arise from the arrest and custodial stages. Upon arrest or being taken into custody, an experienced criminal defense attorney in Seattle should be retained immediately. Call us right away if you or somebody close to you has been arrested or taken into custody.