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If you get arrested by the police, you’re going to start thinking about your rights. This may begin even before the arrest. For instance, you have a right to remain silent and you can ask the police if you’re being detained. They can’t illegally detain you or force you to answer their questions without your lawyer present. 

After the arrest, one of the rights that you have is the right to a phone call. This is popularly referenced as a single phone call — as if you only get one — though the reality is that you may get as many as you need. Regardless, they can’t deny you any communication with the outside. For most people in this situation, they need to get in touch with their lawyer to let them know what is happening, especially if they have refused to talk to the police until their lawyer arrives. 

Remember that this phone call to an attorney is private. You are making it from the police station, but the police are not allowed to listen in. You have a right to confidentiality with your lawyer while you’re in jail, just as you do in all other discussions with them. The police cannot record the call and then use what you say against you — even if you make a confession to your lawyer. That information is between you and them. 

If you call someone other than an attorney, however, be aware that the police may listen in on those conversations. It may feel private to you if you call your spouse, for example, but your right to privacy is just between you and your legal team. That right does not extend to anyone else. 

This is just the beginning of the legal process after an arrest. Be sure you know what steps you’ll need to take next to further your own defense.