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How Do I Know If I Am Actually Under Arrest In Arizona?


An arrest in Arizona can happen for wide variety of reasons, but it’s important to note that all United States citizens who have been arrested are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. If you’ve been arrested in Arizona, or you have a loved one who has been arrested for a crime they didn’t commit, it’s important to understand the process of arrest, protect your rights and know your options to fight the charges.

What Does It Mean to Be Under Arrest in Arizona?

Being arrested means that you are legally in the custody of the arresting law enforcement officer and his or her agency. The purpose of arrest is not just to keep you in custody, but it is also to serve as a legal process by which you are formally advised that you are suspected of committing a crime. An arrest, however, does not mean that you have been formally charged with a crime.

Essentially, the burden of proof is on the arresting officer and his or her agency to provide evidence to the district attorney’s office, and from there, you will be formally charged. In between the actual arrest event and a trial, you will likely need to be brought before a magistrate judge who will determine whether or not to set bail or allow you to go free on your own recognizance, meaning you agree to show up in court on your appointed date without posting any bail money.

The Basics of an Arrest

  • An arrest is a formal process of custody
  • Being arrested does not prove guilt
  • You may be offered conditional release terms
  • Do not resist an arrest

Is There a Difference Between Detainment and Arrest?

Although handcuffs and restraints may be involved in both an arrest and a detainment, they are actually both two very different things with two different legal definitions. While an arrest means that you are physically detained and taken into custody, a detainment means that you are not free to travel on your way as per a law enforcement official, but you are not under arrest. If you choose not to comply with a detainment command, you may be physically detained and handcuffed, often under the auspices of “officer safety”.

Another difference is how the two pertain to investigation of a crime and the gathering of evidence. If a law enforcement official believes that he or she has enough evidence to prove that you are suspected of committing a crime, then you will likely be arrested. On the other hand, if the law enforcement official wants to question you regarding a crime or believes that searching you may yield evidence of the commission of a crime, you may be detained.

In a detainment, you also do not need to be specifically notified that you are being detained. The actual detainment is a matter of course when you comply with commands and requests. A law enforcement official should tell you that you are being detained if you ask and failing to comply with detainment commands may result in an arrest as it could grant probable cause or reasonable suspicion.

How Detainment and Arrest Differ

  • Detainment means you are not free to go
  • Being detained does not mean you are under arrest
  • An arrest means that you are suspected of committing a crime
  • An arrest does not mean you have been charged with a crime

How Do I Know If I’m Under Arrest?

Simply put, you’re under arrest once you have been notified of such by a law enforcement official. This means that you need to be told that you are specifically under arrest, but it does not necessarily mean that you have to be physically detained or restrained. The mere notification itself serves as the detainment order, so with or without handcuffs or other measures, if you’re notified that you’re under arrest, you are legally in the custody of law enforcement. From this point, you should be afforded all of the rights that come along with an arrest.

Protect Yourself During an Arrest

  • You are under arrest when notified by law enforcement
  • You have specific rights when arrested
  • You do not have to be handcuffed to be under arrest
  • Innocent people do get arrested in Arizona

What Are Your Miranda Rights?

When you are arrested in Arizona or anywhere else in the United States, you are to be notified of your Miranda rights, also known as a Miranda warning. These rights stem from a famous United States Supreme Court decision in the case of Miranda v. Arizona. The case was brought about because a man by the name of Ernesto Miranda signed a written confession in which he was suspected of kidnapping and other crimes.

Miranda was not informed that he had the right to remain silent or have an attorney present during interrogation. When the United States Supreme Court heard the case, it’s decision overturned Miranda’s guilty verdict and required all citizens to be notified of the right to remain silent, to have counsel present during questioning and to have counsel appointed if indigent after an arrest.

When you see an arrest in movies or TV shows, you might see a police officer read these rights off of a card, but the decision in Miranda v. Arizona does not require law enforcement to read anything or provide rights in any specific order or use any specific verbiage. As long as the basic rights are clearly stated, the arrested individual is considered to have been informed of the rights.

Your Miranda Rights

  • You have the right to remain silentvisit the link to understand what that means
  • You have the right to have your attorney present during questioning
  • You will have an attorney appointed for you if you can’t afford one
  • Exercise your rights

What to Do After an Arrest

Because you have these rights as an American citizen, it is highly recommended that you exercise them. After you have been told that you are under arrest, it would be a good idea to remain silent, even if law enforcement try to get you to talk. The point of remaining silent is to avoid self-incrimination. One wrong word can make a huge difference in court, so unless you require medical assistance, stay quiet and cooperative with the arresting officer.

You should also request your attorney before questioning. Your attorney can give you advice and guidance as to how best to navigate things going forward given your unique circumstances. If you are brought in for a formal interrogation, do not speak, but instead, allow your attorney to speak for you. He or she will advise you as to whether or not to answer specific questions and can counsel you on the answers you plan to provide.

Take Action After an Arrest

  • Contact your defense attorney as soon as you can
  • Do not answer questions without your attorney
  • Only speak to ask for medical assistance
  • Allow your attorney to answer questions and provide guidance

Partner with an Arizona Criminal Defense Attorney

Although law enforcement may try to make you feel guilty after an arrest, you are innocent until proven guilty. The experienced Arizona criminal defense attorneys at the DM Cantor understand this, and they work aggressively to defend their clients’ rights. When facing a legal challenge, it pays to have a criminal defense team on your side to ensure that you receive fair treatment by the criminal justice system.

If you’ve been arrested in Arizona, you have options to clear your name, and the DM Cantor has solutions and strategies to protect you. To receive a consultation to discuss your case, call 602-307-0808 or visit https://dmcantor.com now to speak with a legal expert!

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About the Author

Attorney Barry Boches provides personalized legal representation for criminal defense, personal injury, DWI and traffic violation cases in Illinois.