First Things You Need To Know When You Are Arrested

Interviewer: My first question for you: If I had been arrested, released and charged with a DUI, what are some of the first things I need to figure out? Do I need lawyer and how serious are the charges that I’m facing?

Ladan Law: In Florida, a simple DUI is a second degree misdemeanor. It is a criminal offense. Some people think it is a felony, but it is not, it’s a misdemeanor. However, any misdemeanor is punishable by up to jail time and a DUI is no exception. So when you get arrested for a DUI, it is a pretty significant event. The system is not user friendly. It’s very difficult for people to figure out what the next step should be. I would recommend, under any circumstance, that you get an attorney that specializes in criminal law and preferably one that has a lot of DUI experience to walk you through the process, regardless of what your desired outcome is.

Even if you want to go in, enter a plea to the offense and get started on the minimum sanctions, which are often suggested by the prosecutor, it’s advisable to have an criminal defense attorney with you because even some of the sanctions are difficult to figure out and carry out. An attorney can walk you through that process. Certainly if you want to fight a DUI and challenge the evidence, you’re going to need a very specialized and knowledgeable attorney.

Interviewer: What information about what happened to me, if I was arrested, is important for me to note down and to have ready when I speak to the DUI lawyer so they can better help me?

Ladan Law: That’s a good question and it’s something that a lot of people don’t think about. The first thing you need to do, the first thing I suggest, is to make a log or a brief synopsis of everything you can remember from the event. That starts before you leave the house. I ate at such and such a time, my dinner consisted of X, Y or Z, I got to the bar, restaurant, friend’s house at such and such a time. There were people there and list those people. If you purchased beverages when you were out at a bar, try and track down your credit card receipts, how much you paid for those items. Sometimes that can be very valuable evidence.

So, the first thing that you need to do is safeguard the evidence that exists. I may ask you, “Do you have a copy of the police report?” That’s valuable to me to analyze your case. I’m pretty adept at doing that pretty quickly in identifying some of the problems that you might have. My number one goal is people are upset, people are tired when they see me, some people come right out of the jail and come see me and I tell them, “You need to reflect. You need to think about the circumstances that led up to your contact with the police. It may not seem important now, but it may be important in the future. I think you need to record that information.”

Interviewer: Okay, even though, you said you may be tired, probably frightened and aggravated, you don’t want to relive this stuff because memories fade. This will probably take at least several months to resolve, you should definitely try to write down everything that happened right away so at least you have a record of it. You can refer to it later on and find ways to help defend yourself because of what you wrote.

Ladan Law: That’s correct. The typical DUI case can take three months or longer to defend and three months from now the events certainly are not as fresh in the mind. It’s good to have that down on paper. A lot of times the things that nobody thought were important, turn out to be the lynchpin in a successful defense.

Author: Amir Ladan
A former assistant state attorney for Orange/Osceola Counties, Amir has handled thousands of cases and dozens of trials, ranging from DUI and traffic offenses to murder, in both adult and juvenile court.

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