Being arrested in Las Vegas can come as a shock to someone simply out for a good time. But what you do and say after an arrest can do a lot to keep an unpleasant experience from turning into a nightmare.
To help you protect your rights after an arrest, our Las Vegas, Nevada criminal defense lawyers discuss the following:
- 1. What do I have to tell a Las Vegas police officer?
- 2. What should I say if I am arrested in Nevada?
- 3. What is the arrest process in Las Vegas?
Learn more about the definition of arrests (NRS 171.104).
1. What do I have to tell a Las Vegas police officer?
Being stopped by the police can trigger the release of adrenaline – your body’s “fight or flight” hormone. Adrenaline can make you talkative and nervous.
It may be tempting to offer an explanation for your actions or to answer the officer’s questions, especially if you’re innocent. But your words can come back to haunt you in ways you do not expect. Police may:
- twist your words in the police report and
- use what you said against you.
Remember – an officer must have probable cause to arrest you. You can’t be arrested simply because you refuse to answer questions. Legally, you are not obligated to tell an officer anything other than your name.1
However, if a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD / “Metro”) officer or Nevada Highway Patrol (NHP) officer asks if you have a weapon on your person, then if – and only if – your weapon is legal, we recommend you disclose that you have one. Usually this will mean that:
- you have a permit to carry a concealed weapon (CCW), and
- you have both your permit and ID with you, as required by Nevada law.
If you are carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, or you do not know whether your weapon is legal, you are usually better off not answering. Admitting you have a weapon will justify the law enforcement officer detaining you and possibly arresting you on weapons charges.
The foregoing is not intended to constitute legal advice for your specific situation. To discuss your case with one of our Las Vegas defense attorneys, we invite you to contact us.
2. What should I say if I am arrested in Nevada?
There are two things it always makes sense to tell the police if you are arrested:
- You want to speak to your lawyer, and
- You are invoking your right to remain silent.
You only need to invoke your right to remain silent if the police give you a Miranda warning (“You have the right to remain silent, etc.). But if you are read a Miranda warning, you must affirmatively tell the police you are exercising it.
As strange as it may sound, it is not enough to simply remain silent in order to exercise your right to remain silent. There is no magic language you must use in order to exercise your right to remain silent. You can say anything like:
“I’m invoking my right to remain silent and I do not wish to make any statement until I consult with an attorney.”
However, contrary to what you see on TV, the police won’t necessarily read you your Miranda rights immediately after an arrest or even at all. You are not entitled to a Miranda warning unless and until you:
- are in custody and
- being officially interrogated.
Often the police will ask their questions before they arrest you (and before your Miranda rights kick in). This is why it is often best to say little or nothing during a police stop.
In many cases — especially if they questioned you before your arrest – the police will have all the information they need or want at this time. They will not bother to question you after you are arrested and will not, therefore, be obligated to read you your rights.
If that is the case, anything you say of your own accord will be admissible in court. The only exception would be if the police were obligated to give you a Miranda warning but didn’t. Proving this to a judge’s satisfaction can, however, be difficult.
This is why we recommend you ask to call your lawyer as soon as you are arrested. A lawyer can make it far easier to resist speaking to an authority figure.
The sooner you call an experienced Las Vegas criminal lawyer after an arrest, the less stressed you are likely to be.
3. What is the arrest process in Las Vegas?
For very low-level misdemeanors, the officer may simply write you a citation to appear in court and let you go. If you are taken into custody, you will most likely be brought to:
- the Clark County Detention Center (“CCDC”) or
- possibly the Las Vegas City Jail.
Once at the CCDC or jail, you will be booked and processed. The police will take your fingerprints and photo (mug shot). They will also remove your belongings from you and inventory them.
After you have been processed, you will usually have the right to post bail (assuming you have the funds). This option may not be available, however, if you were arrested on suspicion of a serious violent felony.
If Las Vegas Justice Court does not set bail, or you are not able to afford it, you will have a chance again at your arraignment. The arraignment is a very brief legal hearing at which you will enter your plea of:
- not guilty,
- guilty or
- no contest.
Even if you make bail, you must appear at your arraignment in order to enter your plea.
For more information on Las Vegas bail procedures, please see our articles:
- Posting bail for an inmate out of the Clark County Detention Center (CCDC)
- How to bail an inmate out of Las Vegas City Jail.
You can also get CCDC inmate information here.
Also see our article on citizen’s arrests (NRS 171.126) and sealing criminal records and arrest reports.
If you have been arrested in Las Vegas, Nevada, our caring criminal defense and DUI lawyers can help you with police interrogations, bail procedures and Nevada criminal arraignments.
We can also negotiate plea bargains with the Clark County District Attorney or bring a motion to suppress evidence based on a violation of your Miranda rights. And, if necessary, we’ll fight to secure you a “not guilty” verdict at trial.