A police officer may arrest you if they reasonably believe that you are committing a crime. Being arrested does not mean that you are guilty or not guilty. The legal definition of an arrest is a reasonable feeling like you are not free to leave.
Many different situations qualify as an arrest, including:
- Being placed in handcuffs
- Being put in the back of a locked police car
- Being booked at a police station
- Being fingerprinted and photographed
Note: If you or someone you know is being held by the Chicago Police Department, you can call 1-800-529-7374 (1-800-LAW-REP4) for a free lawyer, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Service provided by First Defense Legal Aid.
How long can an arrest last?
There is no exact limit on the amount of time an adult can be held in police custody before being charged. A judge will look at many different factors to see if someone has been held too long, including:
- How long you have been held
- If and how many times your Miranda rights have been read to you
- The specifics about how you were held
Arrests when children are present
If you are arrested in your home, and you have children, then the police officer has to give the children to a relative or other responsible person that you choose.
Police arrests and juveniles
Police officers can arrest minors. Various factors are considered when a police officer decides whether to release or keep a minor in custody, such as:
- The charges against the minor
- The minor’s history and present situation
- Whether the minor is in school or working
- Availability of special resources and community services to help the minor
- The minor’s involvement with social programs
- The attitude of the community and any person complaining about the minor
- The attitude of the minor and the minor’s family
If a juvenile is accused of underage drinking or possession of alcohol, then the juvenile cannot be placed in jail.
In addition to arresting juveniles suspected of committing a crime, police officers can also briefly arrest juveniles who are delinquent, neglected, or dependent, or need supervision.
What information do I have to give the police?
If you are arrested, you must give police officers your real name, address, age, and date of birth. You do not need to answer any other questions or provide any other information.
What are my rights while under arrest?
Whenever you are arrested or taken into custody, you must be warned about certain things. Otherwise, the information you give to police might not be able to be used against you. These are called Miranda warnings.
You should be given these warnings when you are taken into police custody, but before you are questioned.
Also, if you are in custody, you should be treated humanely and provided with proper food, shelter, and medical treatment if necessary.
The four Miranda warnings are below.
1. You have the right to remain silent.
Everyone under arrest has the right to remain silent if they are questioned about a crime. This means that you do not have to talk with anyone, including detectives and State's Attorneys.
2. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
Any statements you make can be used as evidence if you are charged with a crime. You do not have to make a formal statement, answer any questions about the incident, or take a lie detector test.
3. You have the right to an attorney.
You also have the right to have a lawyer meet with you while under arrest. You can make a reasonable number of telephone calls to get in contact with an attorney of your choice and a family member.
But remember, if you cannot afford to hire a lawyer yourself, you will not be appointed a public defender until your first court date.
4. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.
Public defenders are lawyers who represent people charged with crimes and cannot afford to pay for a lawyer.