Your Rights When You are Detained in Pennsylvania: Do You Really Get a Phone Call?

Unfortunately, not right away. Upon arrest, there is no immediate right to a phone call in Pennsylvania. Within a reasonable time of being arrested, the officer must either release the person or bring them before a Magisterial District Judge to be preliminarily arraigned on charges.

What is Considered Detained?

A police officer may detain a person only as long as reasonably necessary to issue a citation or conduct the particular investigation that is underway. The question of whether someone is actually being detained comes down to whether or not a reasonable person in those same circumstances would have felt free to leave. 

Another factor is whether or not the person was prevented in any way from leaving by the officer. If so, that person could be deemed “arrested,” even if not formally under arrest. This can happen when an officer places someone temporarily in a patrol vehicle. Or, an officer may approach a person at a public place but block the person’s ability to leave.

If you are unsure if you are being legally detained or have the right to leave, politely ask the officer, “Am I under arrest?” If the answer is “no,” ask them (again, politely), “Am I free to leave?” This way, there will be no misunderstanding about your rights.

Do I Have the Right to Remain Silent If I Am Detained?

If you are arrested, you will be taken to jail and booked. You can and should invoke your right to remain silent. Just politely decline to answer any questions until you have a lawyer present. The Fifth Amendment gives all persons the right to remain silent to avoid incriminating themselves before law enforcement.

Making Phone Calls After An Arrest

After a person is arrested and booked, they are usually allowed phone calls upon request, or as soon as practicable. Typically, there will be a sign posted near the telephone area that provides information on the process and costs. Arrestees may call an attorney, a bail bondsman, or any friend or relative.

However, this right to phone calls is not unfettered. First, all calls are recorded and monitored. These phone calls are not private and may be used against you, so long as that phone call is not with an attorney.

Will I Have a Right to a Bond/Bail?

Usually, when a person is arrested for an offense for which they are entitled to bond, the person can simply bond out pursuant to the bond or bail amount set. There is a chance (typically only in minor cases) that a person could be released on their own recognizance (ROR). This means they don’t have to post a monetary bond. Instead, the person signs a document stating they will appear when required by court.

If you are released, the court might impose certain conditions on your release. These usually involve:

  • No contact with an alleged victim 
  • No contact with any potential co-defendant
  • No return to the scene of a crime or incident 
  • No possession of firearms, or 
  • A  prohibition of using alcohol or controlled substances. 

If you are given a monetary bond, you can pay the amount in full. This will entitle the person posting bond to get that money back upon the closing of the case.

Contact An Attorney With Your First Call

Once you are arrested, you should have the ability to make a call. You should use your call to contact an attorney or direct a family member or friend to contact one on your behalf.

A criminal defense attorney will give you the best chance at a favorable outcome in your criminal case, whether you’ve been charged with DUI or homicide. Most importantly, they will protect your rights from the moment you call them, so the police aren’t able to use aggressive tactics to get you to incriminate yourself.

Contact Our Criminal Defense Law Firm in West Chester, PA

If you are facing criminal charges and need legal help, contact the West Chester, PA criminal defense lawyers at DiCindioLaw, LLC for help defending against your criminal charges. Our West Chester criminal defense lawyer offers free consultations.

DiCindio Law, LLC
29 S Walnut St
West Chester, PA 19382
(610) 430-3535