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Five Things You Must Know if You're Arrested in Connecticut

1. If you are arrested, you must be read your Miranda warning before being questioned by police.

Most people have heard of a Miranda warning, which is based on a U.S. Supreme Court case from the late 1960s, Miranda vs. Arizona. Once arrested, but before being questioned, police are required to inform you that: (1) you have the right to remain silent, (2) anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law, (3) you have the right to speak to an attorney, and (4) to have an attorney present during any questioning. If police do not inform you of your Miranda rights before interrogating you after an arrest, any statements you make are inadmissible in a court of law. However, the state is under no obligation to drop the charges if a violation occurs - but suppressing statements may lead to dismissal due to lack of evidence to support the charges.  See the FAQs for more information on arrests and police questioning.

2. If you're arrested and taken into custody, you must be arraigned no later than the first regularly scheduled court day following your arrest.

An arraignment is a legal term that just describes the court process at which the charges are formally read to you and recorded. In addition, bail may be set (if applicable) . It’s important to note that the first regularly scheduled court day following your arrest may not be the next day.  For example, if you are arrested on a Friday or before a holiday weekend, you could be sitting in jail for two or more days. The day before Thanksgiving is widely thought to be the worst day to be arrested because of the extended holiday.

3. If you’re arrested without a warrant, there must be an independent determination of probable cause within 48 hours of your arrest.

This process is commonly referred to as a Gerstein hearing based on the famous U.S. Supreme Court case, Gerstein v. Pugh. This is a judicial determination of probable cause, which is essentially a finding that a crime has been committed and you committed it. However, in CT, you do not have the right to be present at this hearing. In other words, a judge may determine whether probable cause supported your arrest without you or a lawyer being there to challenge the arrest. To be clear, this different from an arraignment. In this case, the 48 rule applies regardless of weekend or holiday. If a judge finds that probable cause did not exist, you must be released from custody.

4. An arrest does not trigger your 6th Amendment right to an attorney.

There’s a difference between the 5th and 6th Amendment right to counsel. The 5th Amendment right to an attorney applies only to police questioning following an arrest – this right is a precautionary measure to protect against self-incrimination.  The 5th Amendment right to counsel is what is referred to in the Miranda warning. Conversely, the 6th Amendment right to counsel is more substantial, and entitles you to an attorney during all “critical stages” of prosecution, which is generally not triggered until you’re arraigned.  “Critical stages” of prosecution include certain pretrial procedures, such as plea negotiations, and trial itself.  Therefore, you’re not constitutionally entitled to 6th Amendment right to an attorney between the time you’re arrested and arraigned - so if you cannot afford an attorney, the state is only obligated to appoint a public defender at your arraignment. 

To be clear, you do have the right to have an attorney present during police questioning following an arrest if you choose to exercise your 5th Amendment right to counsel - but this will be at your expense.  You're allowed to hire an attorney at any time - you just don’t have the right to an attorney if you can’t afford one until you’re arraigned.

5. You can search the Connecticut Judicial Branch's website for active arrest warrants.

However, not every type of arrest warrant will show up upon a search - only re-arrests for failing to appear for a previous court date and arrests ordered for violations of probation. This means that arrests warrants requested directly from local and state police departments will not show up upon a search. For this reason, most outstanding arrest warrants are not listed online in the public judicial website. If you suspect you may have a pending warrant for your arrest, it is best to have an attorney directly contact police rather than to call them yourself.

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Douglas D. Rudolph is a Connecticut criminal defense attorney.  Learn more about Doug here.