When it comes to traumatic and anxiety-provoking life events, few things top the list higher than getting arrested in Atlanta for “allegedly” committing a crime. The key word there is ALLEGEDLY. Just because you’ve been handcuffed does NOT make you a criminal (even though you might be unfairly treated as such).

In the blink of an eye, you can go from being a free man or woman to a prisoner in shackles, being hauled away from your home, family, and friends. Under Statutory Rape Georgia law, even young men and women in their teens, close in age, and consensual partners can be registered as sex offenders. Your freedom, possessions, identification, and clothing, all taken away.

This short guide is here to help you prepare for what we hope you NEVER have to experience: being arrested in Atlanta.

Follow these tips to protect your rights in Atlanta, Georgia

1. Respect and Cooperation go a Long Way

We get it. You’re likely angry, upset…no, enraged that these authoritarian jerks have put you in cuffs. But despite any feelings of aggression or hostility you might have, take a deep breath and remember that anything you say or do CAN BE USED AGAINST YOU.

Here’s what you should remember:

  • Any communication you have with the police should be concise, respectful, and courteous.
  • Be calm. Take a deep breath and count to ten (or 100) if you need to
  • Do NOT jump to conclusions or think the situation is either worse or better than it is
  • If asked for your identification or contact information, provide it.
  • If questions delve into a matter or situation involving YOU, end the conversation
  • Always ask the officer if you are under arrest, or if you are free to go.

2. The Police are NOT your friends

The authorities are NOT on your side. This isn’t to say the police are bad and out to get you for no reason, but it’s important to remember that their job is not to be an advocate for you. Their job is to respond to complaints and to what they observe, opening and subsequently trying to close cases.

The police use a wide-range of tactics to try to acquire the information they are looking for. This can include misinformation, outright lying, and attempting to build a report with you in order to solicit information that can later be used against you in a court of law.

If you’ve watched The First 48 on A&E, or virtually any other police procedural show, there is always a scene where the detectives are interviewing someone and they claim that “they really want the best outcome for you,” but “they can only help you if you agree to answer their questions.”

You see this everywhere because it’s a common tactic by law enforcement to endear themselves to an individual and overlook the fact they have a lot of rights and don’t actually have to answer any of the questions. In fact, someone facing a criminal charge is always better off when they have an attorney in their corner who can help protect them from savvy interrogators.

Largely speaking, they should be unbiased. However, this is not always the case. Authorities are trained to get you to “like” them, and on ways to get you to lower your guard and open up. This false sense of safety may cause you to share more than you need to, any amount of which could be used against you later on.

3. Ask for a Lawyer

If taken into custody, ask for a lawyer. You are under no obligation to respond to any form of police questioning once you reserve your right to have an attorney present. You can live to fight another day at the Atlanta Municipal Court.

Again, be respectful, but resolute in your decision to suspend the conversation until you have adequate representation present.

A simple, “at this time I would like to request a lawyer be present for any further questioning” or “I fully intend to comply and assist in any way I can once my attorney is present”. This is a right granted to everyone arrested in Atlanta by the Constitution. Once you say you would like an attorney, the interrogation has to stop.

But I’m innocent, why would I need a lawyer in Atlanta?

That’s a good question, but you still are better off speaking with an attorney if you have been arrested or are suspected of a crime. An Atlanta attorney provides a wealth of knowledge to your situation because they have studied the laws, and have loads of experience from previous cases.

The sad fact is that not everyone innocent person is found not guilty. 2015 was a record year for innocent people being exonerated in the United States. Many of these exonerees had spent over 15 years in prison. There are a wide-range of reasons why this happens such as aggressive charging, racial bias, and many more.

It may seem like a large investment, or not worth the trouble – but remember, this is your life. A criminal conviction can have life-altering consequences, impact your ability to provide income, and many more.

Contact a criminal Atlanta attorney to get information about your case, so you can make the best decision possible for you and your family.