Arrested in Rhode Island? Know Your Rights!

Arrests happen. How you handle yourself following your arrest can have a tremendous impact on your criminal case. For many, being arrested is the first time they have ever been exposed to our criminal justice system and the experience is shocking. Having a basic understanding of your rights can protect you from police officers and detectives eager to gather as much information from you as possible.   The Rhode Island Criminal Defense Lawyers at Abilheira Law want you to know your rights if you are ever arrested.

Getting Arrested in Rhode Island

There are several ways an individual can be arrested in Rhode Island.

  • Police and prosecutors often file complaints, which contain a description of the crime you are accused of committing. The complaint is presented to a judge or magistrate, who must be convinced that probable cause exists that a crime has been committed. If the judge or magistrate believes probable cause is present, a warrant is then issued for your arrest.
  • You may also face arrest as a result of a grand jury indictment. To utilize this method, a grand jury is convened and a prosecutor presents evidence against you in a grand jury proceeding. The grand jury weighs the evidence and decides if there is probable cause to indict you or charge you formally with a crime. If the grand jury believes probable cause is present, a warrant is then issued for your arrest.
  • If you fail to appear at a scheduled court date, a judge will issue a bench warrant for your arrest.
  • On the street or in your vehicle, a police officer may arrest you without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe that you have committed or are committing a crime.

 What To Do If You Are Arrested

  • Do not resist. In Rhode Island, using force or a weapon to avoid arrest may result in the additional criminal charge of “resisting arrest.” Even if you feel that you are being arrested mistakenly or that you did nothing wrong, do not give the officer any reason to claim you resisted arrest.
  • No matter how persuasive you think you are, do not try to talk your way out of the arrest. Any information you volunteer may be used against you in the future.
  • Politely decline to answer any questions the police ask without the presence of an attorney.

NOTE: Before police can ask you any questions, they must inform you of your Miranda warnings:

1. The right to remain silent

Refusing to answer questions does not make you look guilty. It protects you from unknowingly incriminating yourself.

2. Anything you say may be used against you in the court of law

Any statements you make to the police will likely end up being introduced as evidence at trial through the testimony of officers who may have been listening.

3. You have the right to an attorney.

Police officer and detectives receive extensive training in interrogation techniques. You do not have to face them alone and can request an attorney.  As soon as you request an attorney, all questioning MUST stop.

4. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed to you.

Usually, a public defender will be appointed at arraignment. Do not make any statements or answer any questions until you speak with your lawyer.

  • If you find yourself answering police questions, you have the right to stop at any time. Continuing to speak with the police may only hurt your case. Let an experienced Rhode Island criminal defense lawyer advocate on your behalf.
  • You are legally entitled to make one phone call within an hour of your arrest. It is best to call a Rhode Island Criminal Defense lawyer. If you call a lawyer, the conversation will be confidential. If you do not have the contact information for your lawyer, call a family or friend and ask them to contact a lawyer on your behalf. Be sure to tell your family member or friend only that you have been arrested and to have lawyer come to where you are.
  • Do not sign any paperwork until you have reviewed the documents with your lawyer.


  • The most important information to take from today’s blog is to politely decline answering any questions or making any statements. Although you may think it will help your chances or eliminate any confusion, talking to the police usually does more harm than good.
  • Try to memorize the numbers of family members for you to call if you are ever arrested. Additionally, it may help to identify a Rhode Island Criminal Defense lawyer you are comfortable with before you ever find yourself in handcuffs.