What to Do When You're Arrested For the First Time


You rarely expect an arrest. It simply happens and you must navigate the situation as best you can. This is particularly true for those who’ve never been arrested. You’ve never gone through the experience before, after all

In this post, we’ll outline what exactly you should do when you’re arrested for the first time.

While there are many takeaways, the primary one is that you should not speak to the authorities until you’ve spoken to a lawyer to help with your representation.

Have you been arrested for the first time and don’t know where to turn? Call me at (503) 227-3800 or contact me online to get help.


Don’t resist arrest

First things first — don’t resist arrest. While you do not need to “give in” to the police on a lot of things — namely answering questions and submitting to a search — you should be focused on fighting the case, not the officer.

Resisting the arrest can turn a bad situation into a significantly worse one. Even if you’re innocent, you can still be charged with resisting arrest. What does this mean?

  • Don’t run

  • Don’t swat or push the officer away

  • Don’t threaten the officer

  • Don’t act generally aggressive towards the officer

  • Note the particulars of your arrest

No matter the particulars of your situation, it’s never a good idea to resist arrest. It can even turn a misdemeanor into a felony.


Don’t resist the the process

Similarly, don’t resist the necessary parts of being charged with a crime. Cooperate with the officers on the way to the station and submit to the legal necessities of being charged. Submit to requests for:

  • Fingerprints

  • Mugshot

  • Entering a holding cell

This will surely be a frustrating and humiliating experience, but putting up any kind of struggle or even an argument at this point will only make it worse.

However, this does not mean you must comply with every single demand. You have constitutional rights that exist for your protection and you should absolutely invoke them.


What are your constitutional protections?

The founding fathers deliberately drafted the Constitution of the United States to provide not only guarantees to a fair trial, but protections against unreasonable (warrantless) searches and seizures.

The problem is that most people either don’t know their rights or they’re too intimidated to invoke them. Making matters worse, police officers are skilled at manipulating you into granting consent or making admissions which will only serves to strengthen their case against you.

Below, we’ve listed 5 of the most important constitutional protections to remember when arrested.


Don’t submit to a search

Whatever you do, no not consent to a search when being physically arrested. Unless a police officer has a warrant from a judge, he is not entitled to anything more than a cursory “pat-down” of your body for weapons. Anything beyond that requires either a warrant, or your consent.

There’s no good reason to grant consent.

If they ask for consent, politely say “no.” If you are arrested outside your home, do not accept an offer to go back inside your home for anything. If they force the issue, or try to coerce you, simply say that you will not speak and will not consent to any search without your lawyer present. Then zip it. Do not say another word.


They can’t force you to speak

As stated in your Miranda rights, “you have the right to remain silent and anything you say can and will be used against you.”

Believe it... Every word will be used against you.

The single biggest mistake people make is thinking that if they can just explain the situation to make the officer “understand” and let them go. Officers know this and they will try to engage you in conversation to get you to keep talking. They may offer vague “deals” or leniency if you cooperate in the moment, but remember, they do not have the power to offer you anything, and once you start talking, you waive your right to silence until you reassert it.

If there is one thing you remember from this blog post, it should be to put up no struggle when you are arrested, but stand firm on your constitutional rights and don’t say anything without a lawyer present.


You are afforded a reasonable number of calls

Many people believe you are afforded one call, when in fact you are afforded a reasonable number of calls. This depends on the situation, but you will generally afforded the right to call a friend or relative and an attorney. Both will take place in a private area outside of where police can listen in.

At the very least, you should always take advantage of this right to call an experienced criminal defense attorney.


You have the right to an attorney

The Supreme Court established in Arizona vs Miranda that police must stop all questioning of a suspect in custody when he has invoked his right to have a lawyer present. That doesn’t mean they have to provide you with a lawyer while you’re in jail, but once you are taken to court, the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides you with the right to have an attorney for all future encounters and if you can’t afford to hire an attorney, one will be appointed to help you.

This is crucial, because help will be on the way, and if you can remain strong and silent until your first court appearance, you will have gone a long way toward helping your case and your cause.


Call Adam Greenman

Being arrested for the first time is scary. The process is daunting, and while this is your first time riding the roller coaster that is the criminal defense process, the police officers on the other end of the tabel go through it daily. Their tricks, strategies, and methods are used for a reason: they work.

Don’t let them run over your rights. With an experienced attorney by your side like Adam Greenman, you’ll have an advocate who knows the tricks and methods and will put you in a position to defend yourself with the leverage of your constitutional rights.

Adam Greenman Law has experience working on a variety of criminal defense cases and simply knows the system. We can help you through your first arrest so you can get your life back on track.

Contact me online to schedule your free, confidential consultation.


Adam Greenman
Adam Greenman has been a trusted criminal defense and personal injury attorney in Portland for over 15 years. A graduate of Lewis and Clark School of Law and an experienced former prosecutor, Adam is a proud member of the Oregon State Bar Association, Oregon Trial Lawyers Association, and the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. He is known for providing personal, one-on-one attention to clients.