No. Police are not required to tell you what you’re being arrested for. Within 72 hours you have right to be brought before a judge or released. When brought before a judge, that’s when the charges against you will be read.
Nevertheless, at the time of arrest, police will typically give you a basic explanation for why you’re being taken into custody. Remember to keep your mouth shut and ask for a lawyer.
Resisting arrest is just like it sounds. If police have probable cause to arrest you and you delay or resist them in any way, you can be charged with a misdemeanor of resisting arrest. Examples of resisting arrest include running away from police or providing an officer with a false ID.
Be aware that just touching an officer could get you tasered or beaten and stuck with a felony charge for assaulting a police officer.
Probable cause is the legal standard by which a police officer has the right to make an arrest, conduct a personal or property search, or to obtain a warrant for arrest. While many factors contribute to a police officer’s level of authority in a given situation, the probable cause standard requires facts or evidence that would lead a reasonable person to believe that a suspect has committed a crime.
Common examples of probable cause include the sight or smell of contraband in plain view or plain smell, or an admission of guilt for a specific crime. The presentation of any of these facts would allow an officer to perform a search and make an arrest.
Be aware that minor traffic violations (e.g. speeding, broken tail-light, or expired registration) are notconsidered probable cause.
Videotaping or photographing police in public places is usually legal, so long as you don’t interfere their ability to do their job. Nonetheless, police generally don’t like being watched or documented and will often respond aggressively.
Citizens are frequently arrested for videotaping police, and the charges are later dropped. Regardless, video is uniquely effective in revealing guilt and exonerating the innocent — for both police and citizens. See examples of this here, here, here, and here.
If you’re videotaping or photographing police, make sure you don’t interfere. If you’re arrested, “obstruction” is the most likely charge, and you’ll want to be able to defend against it.
If you acquire video or photographic evidence of police misconduct, create and secure copies of the evidence. Then forward copies to local police monitoring groups such as civilian review boards, and local ACLU, NLG, and NAACP chapters. You should also obtain legal representation for yourself in case the police department retaliates against you.
For an excellent defense of why it should never be illegal to videotape police, click here.
If you’re arrested you have the right to remain silent. You have the right to an attorney. You have the right to be brought before a judge within 72 hours and charged. And you have the right to be treated fairly under the law.
If you’re arrested, don’t rely on police to inform you of your right to remain silent and see a lawyer. Use the magic words "I’m going to remain silent. I would like to see a lawyer." If police persist in questioning you, repeat the magic words. The magic words are like a legal condom. They’re your best protection if you’re under arrest.
Remember that anything you say can and will be used against you in court. So don’t try to talk yourself out of the situation, and don’t make small talk with police either.
With more and more ways to take pictures or images, police departments are lobbying state legislatures to pass laws which in effect allow them to operate without public oversight.
"It’s not right," said Colorado Attorney General, John Suthers. “We think that allows police agencies, who are public employees, working for tax payers, to operate outside the First Amendment.”
The First Circuit Court of Appeals, highest court in New England region, reached a crucial decision in August (2011) allowing the public to videotape police officers while they’re on the clock.
"The filming of government officials engaged in their duties in a public place, including police officers performing their responsibilities, fits comfortably within these principles [of protected First Amendment activity]. Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting the free discussion of governmental affairs. Basic First Amendment principles, along with case law from this and other circuits, answer that question unambiguously in the affirmative."
The Court further stated that such protections should have been clear to the police all along, noting that the right to videotape police carrying out their duties in a public forum is “fundamental and virtually self-evident”, particularly on the Boston Common—the “apotheosis of a public forum.”
"Moreover, changes in technology and society have made the lines between private citizen and journalist exceedingly difficult to draw," the Court continued. "The proliferation of electronic devices with video-recording capability means that many of our images of current events come from bystanders with a ready cell phone or digital camera rather than a traditional film crew, and news stories are now just as likely to be broken by a blogger at her computer as a reporter at a major newspaper. Such developments make clear why the news-gathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials or status."
The court concluded, “In our society, police officers are expected to endure significant burdens caused by citizens’ exercise of their First Amendment right.”
"[T]hough not unqualified, a citizen’s right to film government officials, including law enforcement officers, in the discharge of their duties in a public space is a basic, vital, and well-established liberty safeguarded by the First Amendment."