Many people mistakenly believe that if they are arrested but not charged with a crime, there are no repercussions to the initial arrest. The fact, however, is that any arrest can result in several long-term consequences that you might not have considered. While everyone should attempt to remain on the right side of the law, it always helps to be informed.
Consequences of Arrest: Record of Arrest
In most states, people who are arrested for any reason whatsoever will have a permanent record of that arrest, which must be reported to certain employers and licensing agencies, such as the State Board of Dentistry. When you are arrested, the reason for the arrest as well as other pertinent information will be a matter of public record, which can only be sealed for a limited number of reasons. If you are arrested, you may have to disclose that information to future employers, which may cost you a job.
Consequences of Arrest: Posting Bail
Most people who are arrested try to post bail immediately, or call someone to post bail for them. Posting bail can also be made a matter of public record, and the fact that you posted bail can be disclosed to police if you are ever arrested again. While this is not a warning against posting bail, everything you do has consequences. The only way to avoid this circumstance is to convince the judge to release you on “own recognizance”, which means that you are legally obligated to adhere to certain restrictions until your court date.
Consequences of Arrest: Searches
When you are arrested, the supposition that you have been involved in criminal activity may result in certain searches and seizures. Depending on the reason for your arrest, police may have probable cause (or be able to obtain a warrant) to search your car, home, office at work, gym locker or any other property that may contain evidence that applies to your case. Even if no such evidence turns up, the police are still legally able to search your property beyond the reasonable expectation of privacy.
Consequences of Arrest: Seizures
If, during the scope of their search, the police turn up any contraband (illegal property) or evidence of a crime, the property will be seized and kept for your day in court. That evidence, if protected by probable cause or a warrant, can be used against you at trial, and may be the difference between a conviction and an acquittal.
Consequences of Arrest: Arraignment
Almost all suspects who are arrested are later arraigned, which is your first appearance in front of a judge. The judge will determine (with the assistance of the prosecutor and your attorney, if you have one) the amount at which you bail will be set as well as whether or not the prosecution has enough evidence of a crime to move forward to trial.
Consider these consequences of arrest, and know that an arrest does not just mean spending the night in jail.