Even if you have never done anything wrong, contact with the police can be a little worrying, especially if they are asking you a lot of questions. Unless you have been arrested before, you might be wondering what actually happens if you are in that situation. Here is a brief guide to being arrested in Alaska.
When police can prevent you for leaving
Law enforcement officers, i.e. Alaska State Troopers, city or borough police, or Village Public Safety Officers (VPSOs) can actually talk to you or ask you questions at any time, but they cannot detain you for no particular reason. By “detain”, that doesn’t necessarily mean arrest you. It can mean simply stopping you from leaving so that you have to answer their questions. You are perfectly in your rights to not answer any questions or move off when you feel you want to.
Law enforcement officers must have a “reasonable, articulable suspicion” that you have committed a crime, are about to commit a crime, or have done some serious harm to property or persons recently.
If police do question you, all you need to do as a minimum is to tell them your name and show i.d. You don’t need to answer any more questions if you don’t want to. If you are in a hurry, just ask whether you are free to go. If they say you are free to go, then you can leave.
If police detain you, what happens next?
When questioned by police, and you are told that you are not free to leave, then the best question is to ask whether you are under arrest. If you are told that you are, then the officers must follow a set procedure as follows:
- They must read your Miranda Rights. This means that they tell you that you have the right to remain silent; that anything you say may be used against you in court; that you have the right to talk to an attorney and that the attorney can help you when questioned further.
- You will be given a public attorney if you cannot afford ne.
- If you are young, then you can ask for an adult, i.e. a parent or older person you know, to be present when questioned.
- If you say you want to have an attorney, the police will stop asking you questions until the attorney is present.
Recording your answers and searches
Alaska Police may have a recording device which will be used if you respond to their questions, whether you are under arrest or not. The recording can be replayed in court if you reach that stage, so it pays to be careful how you respond just in case you responses are replayed.
They cannot search you, your car, house or belongings unless it is “reasonable” for them to do so. By “reasonable” it means that:
- you have given them permission to make a search;
- they have a search warrant;
- they have arrested you;
- it is thought that you were armed and could be dangerous;
- there was an emergency.
If you are asked, you can give permission, but bear in mind that once you have done so, they can search anything they like unless you have told them what you can or cannot search. If you refuse to be searched, this refusal cannot be used against you later.
What happens next after being arrested?
It is most likely that you will be taken to a police station and booked in. That means handing over any possessions that you have on you and your fingerprints and photo taken. You will probably be put in a cell or a room until an attorney or a parent arrives, if that is what you have requested.
You may organize to be released under bond if your offense is not considered too serious. If it is thought that you have committed a felony, you may have to stay in jail until you are indicted, i.e. go to court and officially charged. Talk to your attorney about obtaining a bond if you are allowed to do so. There are commercial bondsmen who will arrange for a bond to be arranged. It’s like a loan except that as long as you don’t try to ignore the legal process you don’t actually have to pay the bond.