Question: "What should I do if I am arrested by a police officer?"
Answer: Do not speak or answer questions without first consulting with an attorney.
You have the fundamental right to remain silent and not provide any information at the time of your arrest, the prudent thing to do in almost all cases is to use it. Later on, after speaking with an attorney, you can provide a statement once you fully understand the direction of the investigation and your legal liability.
As a former police officer, I was always surprised with how willing people were to speak with me when they knew I was contacting them because I believed they were involved in criminal activity. If a police officer contacts or interviews an individual related to a crime, it is solely because that officer believes doing so will result in furthering his investigation often times at the cost of the interviewee being arrested. Many times, questions are asked purely to lock an individual into one story. For example, during a DUI investigation, police officers are trained to ask the driver if there is anything wrong with their vehicle. If the driver answers "No", the police officer has just identified "operator error" as the reason for why the driver was unable to hold his lane as opposed to a mechanical reason. You can see how with twenty or thirty of well-worded questions by the time the driver is asked to step out of the vehicle for Field Sobriety Tests, he is already in serious trouble.
A good police officer will often attempt to make sure that his interviewee understands each question but sometimes, in the hurried investigation, there is miscommunication. One example of this occurred when a client of mine, a pharmacist who had been bullied and threatened by his employer for several months into giving the employer medications in his possession, was arrested for Drug Sales/ Transfer. A lack of proper communication coupled with a fear and desire to please the investigating officer, led my client to tell the officer that "yes" he did give the medications to another individual. It was only later on, when a detailed account of the extortion presented to the officer through a meeting with both my client and I, that my client was finally recognized as the victim he was rather then a cold narcotic distributor.
Communication is key in relationships. When presented with a situation that might result in criminal or civil liability, you should never answer questions or present information to a police officer without the assistance of an attorney to help with the process. An attorney can still provide you with an opportunity to answer questions and respond to any and all accusations but he will do so in a matter that most benefits you.
If you have any questions about your rights or are seeking the opportunity to speak with a Ventura criminal defense attorney about your case, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 805-901-9119.