What to Say If You Are Arrested in Illinois

HandcuffsMany people have only a vague idea of what happens when they are arrested. Many misconceptions abound, at least partly due to inaccurate depictions in film and television. Illinois citizens can benefit greatly from an increased awareness of the facts, and one can never be too cautious when it comes to legal matters. The professionals at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC have previously touched on what to do if arrested for a DUI. Now, we wish to provide knowledge that more broadly applies to arrests generally. Here is some information on what to say if you are arrested in Illinois.

What Should You Say If You Are Arrested?

Once a police officer formally puts you under arrest, your first impulse may be to try talking them out of it. You may debate with yourself whether you should say that they are making a mistake or whether you should simply insist that you are innocent. You may come up with all kinds of comments and assertions and excuses. This presumably is why you are reading this: to learn what, if anything, is the best way to get yourself out of an arrest.

The truth is that there is no such thing as a verbal magic bullet that will save you from going into custody. If a police officer has told you that you are under arrest, they have already made their decision. As a result, they will likely not be persuaded to let you go, no matter how you plead. If there was a time when you could have talked your way out of the situation, you can consider it to have passed once the officer informs you that you are under arrest. So, the best legal advice is usually to say nothing and just submit to the process.

The Truth About Police Questioning

After the initial arrest, you may be quickly released on a bond or you may be held by the police, at which time they may start hammering you with questions. They may make statements, promises, or threats, and they may try to make you sign papers. There are two aspects to this part of the arrest process that you need to understand. One is that everything they tell you may be not entirely true - they may not follow up on their promises at all or they may give you false information or hope. The other is that they often do this because they really have just one job: getting you to talk to make their case against you more solid.

You may be familiar with this phrase from television: “anything you say, can and will be held against you in a court of law.” This is part of the Miranda rights, one of the rights that the Illinois State Bar Association confirms applies to you “as soon as you are taken into custody.” Police are required to inform arrestees about these rights after arrest.

What this one right in particular means is that if your arrest later leads to a motion or trial, the police will be able to tell the court about anything you said during your arrest or while you were in custody. This could (and you should expect, will) be used to incriminate and convict you. Again, the police will not be persuaded of your innocence - they would not have you in custody unless they believed that you broke the law. It is their job to help convict you.

The Right to Remain Silent

While this may seem intimidating, you do not have to say anything to the police at any time. You may just want to remember what police say when they arrest you. They say, “You have the right to remain silent.” This is not just a catchphrase from television: it is the most well-known of the Miranda rights and as with the other Miranda rights, you as an American citizen can (AND SHOULD) exercise this right during and immediately following your arrest.

The right to remain silent stems directly from the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution. It states that no one can be “compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” You can decide not to say a single word to the police, even if they threaten you or make promises or tell you something alarming. If you want, you can wait until the arrival of the attorney who you choose to represent you, and that lawyer can guide you through any further questioning. It is not only completely legal for you to refuse questioning: it is also your right under the laws of this nation.

What About Phone Calls?

Lastly, not only do you have a right to a phone call following an arrest, but you should also be able to make more than the proverbial “one phone call.” The Illinois State Bar Association confirms that your rights as an arrestee should include “a right to make a reasonable number of phone calls or otherwise communicate with an attorney of your choice and a member of your family.” If you are arrested, and in custody, you need to be able to inform your loved ones of where you are, and you need to contact a lawyer who can assist you. You should not need to worry about having to choose who to call because you should be allowed to do both.

If you face charges for committing a crime, you’ll want to contact the best attorney you can. You will want to find someone who can not only defend you in court but protect your rights before the trial process even begins. The Chicago criminal defense lawyers at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC are knowledgeable in both Illinois law and local laws affecting Chicago and other cities. We will assert your rights as an American citizen and guide you through every step of the legal process. Contact us at (312) 644-0444 and start speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.

Written by Mitchell S. Sexner Last Updated : May 26, 2023