User Rating: 2 / 5

Star ActiveStar ActiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Q: What will happen if I’m arrested?

A: You can expect to be searched for weapons by the police and taken to a police station. You will be advised of your “Miranda rights” or rights under the United States Constitution. You have the right to not answer questions from the police and to have a lawyer present. As soon as you request a lawyer, the police are not supposed to question you further. If you cannot afford a lawyer, the court will appoint one for you.


Q: What basic things should I remember if I’m arrested?

A: Once you have identified yourself, you may refuse to make any statement or discuss the case with anyone. On the other hand, you may choose to answer questions, sign papers or take tests. Remember that any information you give voluntarily can be used as evidence against you in court. Law enforcement officers cannot use force or threaten you to make you answer questions, and cannot offer leniency in exchange for any written or oral statements.


Q: What if I’m arrested and can’t afford to hire a lawyer?

A: If you can’t afford to hire a lawyer, the first thing to tell the court at your initial appearance is that you wish to have a lawyer appointed.


Q: How soon after being arrested must I be allowed to appear before a judge?

A: After you are arrested and processed, you must be brought before a judge for an “initial appearance” within 24 hours.


Q: What is bail? When is it offered?

A: The purposes of bail and any conditions of release that are set by a judicial officer include:

  • Assuring the appearance of the accused.
  • Protecting against the intimidation of witnesses.
  • Protecting the safety of the victim, any other person or the community (A.R.S §13-3961(B)).

Unless the offense is one that falls within the exceptions set forth in the Arizona Constitution or statutes a judge is to set bail (A.R.S §13-3856).


Q: Is there a difference between state and federal crimes? Are federal ones more serious?

A: Not necessarily more serious — but most federal crimes are felonies and are punishable by over one year’s imprisonment. Common federal crimes are:

  • Transporting a stolen vehicle across state lines.
  • Making a false statement to the government with the intent to defraud.
  • Mailing matter that is obscene.
  • Transporting or importing drugs.
  • Forgery of government checks.
  • Possession of stolen mail and of items — such as credit cards — which have been stolen from the mail.
  • Robbery or burglary of a bank or savings and loan institution.

In addition, the federal courts will punish violations of all state laws when committed on federal government property, such as a national park or a federal office building. 


Q: I thought a record could be sealed...

A: Yes, a record can be sealed either by law or by motion (Arizona Supreme Court Rule 123). But records, including juvenile records, are not automatically sealed. 

Remember: a person convicted of a crime, either as a juvenile or an adult, has a criminal record for the rest of his or her life.  Under some circumstances the juvenile adjudication may be set aside (A.R.S. §8-348), or the juvenile court and department of juvenile corrections records may be destroyed (A.R.S. §8-349). However, a record will still exist in the criminal justice system.


Laws may have changed since the last time this article was updated.  The current and most up-to-date laws can be accessed here.