What Are Your Rights in Police Custody?

When you’re in police custody, which means you’ve been arrested and you cannot leave, you have rights – but what are they, and what can you do? Here’s what you need to know, before and after you call a Chicago criminal defense lawyer.

What Are Your Rights in Police Custody?

When the police arrest you, you’ve been deprived of your personal liberty. That means you can’t leave when you feel like it; you have to wait until the police release you. This often starts with the police handcuffing you and putting you in the back of a squad car. At that point, it’s pretty obvious that the police have arrested you.

However, police don’t necessarily have to tell you that you’re under arrest for you to be in police custody. For example, let’s say you’re talking to the police in the street and you tell them you don’t want to answer any more questions and that you’ll be on your way. The police tell you to sit down, point to the curb, and say that you can’t go anywhere until they’re finished questioning you. That is an arrest – you are currently in police custody.

You have rights when you’re in police custody, including:

  • The right to remain silent and not answer questions
  • The right to call an attorney for help
  • The right to have a Chicago criminal defense lawyer with you while you’re being questioned

You also have regular human rights, such as the right to not be abused at the hands of police and the right to use the bathroom.

Related: What to do if you’re arrested for picking up a prostitute in Chicago

Your Right to Remain Silent

You don’t have to answer any questions the police ask you. In fact, no matter what you did or didn’t do – and whether or not you’re guilty of a crime – you shouldn’t say anything but “I’d like to speak to my attorney.” That’s because the police are trained to get you to confess, even if you didn’t commit a crime. In fact, jails and prisons all over the United States house plenty of people who were convicted of crimes they never committed.

The Right to Call an Attorney for Help

You’re entitled to a phone call after you’re taken into police custody. You can – and should – use that phone call to get in touch with an attorney or with someone who can find an attorney for you. 

Never, ever talk about your situation over the phone from the jail unless you’re speaking to your attorney. The police can – and do – listen in on phone calls from the jail, so even saying something as simple as, “Mom, they caught me red-handed stealing a TV from Best Buy” can get you into a tremendous amount of trouble. If you must call someone who isn’t your attorney, you can simply say, “I’m at this jail and was arrested because they suspect me of stealing a TV from Best Buy. Can you please get me a lawyer?”

You can speak freely to your attorney on the phone – those calls are protected by attorney-client privacy. However, don’t volunteer any information in earshot of anyone else, and only respond to your attorney’s questions; don’t divulge the whole story over the phone. Your lawyer will come to the jail and speak with you in a private area where nobody else can hear your conversation.

Related: What should you ask a criminal defense attorney during your free consultation?

The Right to Have a Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer With You When You’re Questioned

You have the right to have your attorney present during questioning. In fact, you shouldn’t answer any questions without your lawyer sitting beside you. Your attorney can help protect your rights while the police are questioning you, so it’s in your best interest to have him or her there while you interact with investigators.

Related: What rights do you have when police pull you over?

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Your Rights in Police Custody?

If you’ve been arrested for any reason, whether you’re innocent or guilty, we may be able to help you. Call us at 847-920-4540 right now for a free case review. We’ll answer your questions and work hard to get you the best possible outcome.