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What To Expect If You're Arrested

If there is a warrant out for your arrest, you may be wondering what is going to happen to you, and it is important to know what the arrest process entails. The following is a general layout of what you can expect in the event that you are arrested.

The Arrest

Depending on the circumstances of the actual arrest, this step could go smoothly or there could be issues that further complicate your case.  You may have a warrant out for your arrest that leads you to surrender yourself at a police station, or you may get caught in the midst of illegal activity that leads to the police unexpectedly taking you into custody. Whatever your situation, you want to abide by whatever the officers demand of you because the last thing you need during your trial is the officer stating that you gave them trouble throughout the process.  If you are innocent, you will have a chance to argue that later.

The officers will transport you to a police station and you will be informed of why you have been detained. This is where you will likely be read your Miranda Rights that notify you of your right to remain silent and right to an attorney.  It may seem obvious to you right now, but do not answer any questions until you have a criminal defense attorney present. The officers may appear to want to help you, but answering questions will only hurt you in the long run.  You will eventually have the opportunity to tell your side of the story. Give yourself a chance to consult with an attorney before doing so.


The booking process is pretty straightforward and occurs at the station before your opportunity to contact your attorney.  Generally, your photo and fingerprints will be taken first and the officer will ask you very general identifying questions.  After answering these questions, the booking officer will take inventory of your possessions and place them in an envelope for their return after your release.  Double check the inventory they record for accuracy in order to guarantee the safe return of all your belongings.

Bail Bonds

Depending on what you are being held for, you may be required to post bail in order to leave.  Bail is a fee that you pay so the court can be sure that you will appear at the court on your scheduled date.  If you do not appear, you will forfeit the money that has been posted on your behalf, but if you do appear to the court’s satisfaction, then you will receive the money back.

You may be the one to post bail, or a friend or family member may do so on your behalf.  In many states, there are bail bondsmen that will post your bail for a fee, which is usually 10-12% of bail, to be paid back later.  If you are in a state that allows private bail, and neither you nor anyone you can contact has the means to bail you out, then the police will likely provide you with a list of bail bondsmen to bail you out.  

While the process may slightly vary from state to state, the above process generally applies no matter your location.

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