What Happens When You’re Arrested in North Carolina

Written by Jonathan Breeden

April 21, 2017

Being accused of a crime and finding yourself arrested is a stressful prospect for anyone. However, the more you know about the process will make the experience that much more bearable because you’ll know what to expect and how to protect your rights.

Essentially, there are two very different scenarios that may lead to your arrest in North Carolina. The first usually involves a sudden event like if the police witness you commit a crime or have reasonable suspicion that you have committed, are committing, or will commit a crime. A common example is a traffic stop in which the police pull you over for swerving, determine there is a reason to believe you are intoxicated, and arrest you for a DUI.

The second scenario is that a crime was previously committed and an investigation leads the police to suspect you are the offender. A criminal investigation could take days, week, or months. You may have considerable warning prior to your arrest if the police contact or question you. In this case, the police will obtain a warrant for your arrest. The police may come to you in order to arrest you or you may be asked to come to the police department yourself.

Whatever leads to your arrest, you have the right to a criminal defense attorney. Call Breeden Law Office at (919) 661-4970 to learn how a North Carolina criminal defense lawyer can protect your interests.

What Happens During an Arrest

During an arrest, whether it was based on a sudden event or a previous investigation, the police are going to handcuff you. At this time, the police will state that you are under arrest and may Mirandize you, which means to tell you certain Constitutional rights you should be aware of:

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • Anything you say or do can and will be used against you in a court of law.
  • You have the right to an attorney.
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, the court will provide one for you.

While the police tell you your rights, they may pat you down to ensure that there are no weapons or other items related to the crime on your person. For example, if you are suspected of a drug crime, then the police may pat you down looking for drugs or paraphernalia.

You will then be placed in the back of a police vehicle to be taken to a police station and booked into jail.

The police may ask to search your home or vehicle. You do not have to consent. If the police have a warrant based on an investigation, then they can search the area without your permission. Also, if the police have probable cause to believe there is evidence of criminal activity in your vehicle or home, then they can do the search without asking. If the police are asking, it is because they do not have another way to carry out the search without your permission. You should say no, you do not consent to a search.

What to Expect at the Police Station

When you are taken to a police station, you will be searched, have your belongings taken, and then be given a paper listing the items you can have back. If any of the belongings are connected to the offense, then these will be confiscated as evidence. You will be photographed and have your fingerprints taken. If you are being charged with a felony, you may be required to give a cheek swab so that your DNA can be added to a state or federal database.

While it seems like only a few things to do, booking can take hours. During all of these tasks, you will wait in a holding cell. This is also when you will be given the opportunity to contact an attorney or family member. While there is the pervasive myth that you only get one phone call, the truth is that you have the right to make more than one attempt to contact someone and inform them of your situation. However, you will not be given an unlimited number of phone calls either.

If you were not read your Miranda rights at the time of your arrest, you will be told them prior to the police officers attempting to question you. If you are interrogated without ever having been Mirandized, you may have an additional defense at your disposal and it could be possible to have your responses thrown out as evidence or have your charges dismissed.

How You Can Be Released From Jail

If you were not arrested based on a warrant, then you will go before a magistrate for a probable cause hearing. The magistrate will determine whether you can be released on your own recognizance or if bail should be set and at what amount. If you are allowed to leave on your own recognizance, then you do not have to remain in jail and you are responsible for showing up to your court hearing in the future. If bail is set, someone will need to post the bail bond before you can leave jail.

Call a North Carolina Criminal Defense Lawyer for Help

If you or a loved one has been arrested for a crime in North Carolina, do not hesitate to invoke your right to an attorney. With extensive experience helping people throughout North Carolina, attorney Jonathan Breeden is dedicated to preparing you for anything that comes your way and obtaining the best possible outcome.

Call Breeden Law Office at (919) 661-4970 or use our online contact form to schedule a consultation to discuss how we can protect you and build you a strong defense against the charges.


Divorce In North Carolina: What You Need To Know

A book by Jonathan Breeden