Your Rights

Your Rights After an Arrest

The chances of a law-abiding citizen being arrested are slim. It is important, though, that people know their rights if arrested:

  • If by threats, by persistent questioning or other means of coercion, a person is forced to give incriminating information, he or she may prevent its use in court.
  • Within a reasonable time after being taken into custody, a person has the right to make a reasonable number of phone calls, including contact with an attorney and a family member. If transferred to a new place of custody, this right of communication is renewed.
  • The right to an itemized receipt for all money and property taken from him or her after being taken into custody.
  • The right to be "booked" within a reasonable time frame (usually within several hours).
  • The right for his or her attorney to go to a judge to obtain a writ of habeas corpus, if he or she is held longer than is considered reasonable. A writ of habeas corpus is a court order instructing the police to bring you before the court so that a judge may decide whether a person is being held lawfully.
  • The court will normally set bail, even with a charge of murder or other serious crimes, unless the proof is evident or the presumption is great that the person is guilty of the crime. Bail is the money or other security deposited with the court as an assurance that a person will appear for trial. The court will accept property such as real estate as bail provided certain detailed conditions are fulfilled.
  • In Illinois, the police may release a person on bail if he or she deposits 10 percent of the amount of bail. If there is a warrant for arrest, the amount of bail will be stated on the warrant. For certain minor offenses, the amount of bail is fixed by statute. If a statute does not set a bond, then a judge sets the bond. A person may also be released on his or her own recognizance or word that he or she will keep the date in court.
  • A reasonable amount of time to prepare for a defense before being tried in court can be expected. Even if the right to be represented by a lawyer was declined during the police interrogation, a person still has the right to be represented by a lawyer in court. If a person wants a lawyer and cannot afford one, the court must appoint one to defend him or her. It is wise to have the advice of a lawyer, whether pleading guilty or not guilty.
  • No one is required to testify, and if one does not, neither the judge nor a jury can consider silence as evidence of guilt. In the eyes of the law, a person is presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by the evidence presented in court.

Note: This information was prepared as a public service by the Illinois State Bar Association. Every effort has been made to provide accurate information at the time of publication. For the most current information, please consult your lawyer. If you need a lawyer and do not have one, visit our lawyer referral page

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