purchase, george & murphey.

purchase, george & murphey.


What Are My Rights After an Arrest in Pennsylvania?

October 20, 2021

handcuffs and gavel on tableIf you have been arrested before, or even if you have seen a police procedural on television, you are probably familiar with the rights that police are required to inform a suspect of. However, it is not always a guarantee that, if you are arrested, a police officer will actually inform you of your rights or correctly explain your rights to you. That is why it is important to familiarize yourself with your rights after arrest if you do find yourself detained on criminal charges. 

Where Do Rights after Arrest Come from?

When you have been arrested, you have two primary rights: the right to remain silent, and the right to legal counsel. These rights were formally acknowledged in the 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona. In that case, the Court ruled that upon arresting or detaining someone on suspicion of a crime, law enforcement officers are required to explain these rights to a detainee or arrestee prior to any interrogation or questioning.

The Right to Remain Silent

The right to remain silent stems from the fundamental protection offered by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to be free from any obligation or compulsion to incriminate yourself. When law enforcement officers advise someone of their right to remain silent, this usually includes informing them of that right as well as warning the detainee or arrestee that anything they voluntarily say to the police can be used against them in their prosecution. 

Because police may use any statements you voluntarily give to them, you should always exercise your right to remain silent. Based on subsequent case law, it is considered best practice for you to clearly and explicitly inform the law enforcement officers that you are invoking your right to remain silent and that you will not be speaking to the officers or answering any questions until you have spoken to an attorney. 

Even if you choose to begin speaking to the police, you can invoke your right to remain silent at any time and refuse to answer any further questions. However, anything you said prior to invoking your right to silence can still be used by police.

The Right to an Attorney

The right to an attorney or legal representation comes from the Sixth Amendment, which guarantees the right to legal representation when facing criminal prosecution during each phase of the process. This includes even when you have been arrested on suspicion of a crime but not formally charged by the prosecutor’s office or indicted by a grand jury. The right to an attorney entitles you to:

  • Consult with an attorney prior to speaking to law enforcement officers
  • Have your attorney present when providing a statement or answering questions of law enforcement
  • Have an attorney appointed to represent you free of charge if you cannot afford to hire a lawyer

If you request to have an attorney appointed for you, you will need to meet low-income thresholds under state law. An appointed attorney may come from the public defender’s office, a government-operated department of lawyers who represent criminal defendants, or it may be a private attorney who has agreed or has been selected by the court to represent you free of charge.

Contact an Experienced Erie Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Charges in Pennsylvania

Were you arrested or charged in Pennsylvania? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. The attorneys at Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C. have successfully represented clients charged in Millcreek, Harbor Creek, Fairview, Meadville, and throughout Pennsylvania. Call (814) 833-7100 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. We have an office conveniently located at 2525 W. 26th St., Erie, P.A. 16506, in addition to offices located in Meadville and North East.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.