Know Your Rights

Police or Hospital Investigation into an Incident at the Hospital

What Do I Do If The Police Want to Question Me About an Incident That Occurred at My Hospital?

You have the legal right to decline to answer any questions by the police. If you want to cooperate, say that to the police, but also say that you need to consult with your attorney or union representative first. Walk away from the police and call your CIR representative who will put you in touch with CIR Legal Services, or call CIR Legal Services directly at (212) 356—8195. Because you are a CIR member, CIR Legal Services will pay the attorney fees for consultation and for representation services up to and including arraignment for work-related incidents that occurred at the hospital.

What Do I Do If I Am Told That I Am Not Free to Go?

If you are told that you are not free to go, you are under arrest. You should assert your right to represented by an attorney (if possible in front of a witness) and not answer any questions until you have contacted an attorney. The police are supposed to discontinue all questioning until your attorney is present. Keep in mind that , in many circumstances, it is perfectly legal for police officers to lie in order to prompt a witness or suspect to answer questions. The police can promise leniency if you cooperate, but the cooperating witness or suspect cannot enforce a promise of leniency.

Remember: anything you say can be used against you and others.

What Do I Do If I Believe That I May Be Placed Under Arrest at Some Future Point?

If you believe that you may be arrested, you should retain a criminal defense attorney. This attorney can investigate the case on your behalf and maintain communications with the police investigators prior to an arrest. In the event of a decision to arrest you, the attorney could arrange for you to turn yourself in voluntarily, rather than being arrested at home or at work. If the reason you believe that you may be arrested involves an alleged work-related incident, CIR Legal Services will pay for an attorney (that it designates) to represent you through the arraignment process.

What Happens If I Am Arrested?

If you are arrested, and the police intend to interrogate you as a suspect, a police officer must read you your Miranda Rights (“You are under arrest. Anything you say may be used against you . . .”). You can be held in custody until arraignment occurs, or you can be released with a Desk Appearance Ticket (“DAT”). Demand your right to make a local telephone call within a reasonable amount of time of the arrest. If you have an attorney, call him or her. If you do not have an attorney, and your arrest is work-related, try to contact someone else to call your CIR representative who will arrange for an attorney to represent you, paid for by CIR Legal Services. It is very important to make this call. An attorney can expedite the arraignment process. The City is supposed to use all reasonable efforts to bring you before a judge within 24 hours, and in no event should you be held for more than 72 hours.

What Happens at Arraignment?

At arraignment, you are brought before a judge. You will be asked to enter a plea of “guilty” or “not guilty”. The judge will decide if you will be set free “on your own recognizance”, that is, without any bail, or if you will need to post bail, and if so, what amount. Having a skilled attorney who you trust could help you leave on your own recognizance, or with bail set at a reasonable amount. At the conclusion of arraignment, you are no longer covered by CIR Legal Services and you will have to pay for the services of whichever attorney you retain from then on.

If I Am Charged with a Crime and I Am Not a U.S. Citizen, Should I Consult an Immigration Attorney?

Yes. If you are not a U.S. citizen, it is important to consult with an immigration attorney if you are charged with a crime. If you plead guilty, or are found guilty of certain types of offenses, your immigration status in the U.S., as well as your ability to remain here, may be implicated. CIR Legal Services (212) 356—8195 will provide you with access to an expert immigration attorney at no cost to you.

What Are the Employment Implications If I Am Arrested?

You may be subject to hospital disciplinary action for the same incident at the hospital that was the basis of the arrest. Discipline could range from a warning up to termination. If you are not already working with your CIR representative, contact him or her immediately to discuss the situation. If discipline is proposed, it can be appealed through the CIR collective bargaining agreement (CBA). CIR will provide you with advice and representation in the appeal. Keep in mind that under the CBA there is a limited time period to appeal the proposed discipline. If you fail to appeal within the time period, you may be precluded from challenging it altogether.

Do I Have to Cooperate with a Hospital Investigation of a Patient Complaint?

Yes. You have to cooperate with the hospital’s investigation of a patient complaint. Failure to cooperate could result in disciplinary action. However, you have the right to have your union representative present for such questioning, if you believe that you may be subject to discipline. If the same incident could give rise to both disciplinary and criminal investigation, exercise yout right to speak with a criminal defense attorney before speaking with the hospital’s investigators. CIR Legal Services will provide you with access to an expert attorney at no charge to you. An employer can turn over any statements that you make, whether written or oral, to the police. These statements could be used against you in a criminal proceeding.

Do I Have to Cooperate with a Malpractice Investigation Conducted by My Hospital?

Yes. You are required to cooperate with your hospital when it is investigating an incident that could lead to a medical malpractice claim. If you do not cooperate, the hospital may not be able to fully investigate, and ultimately, defend itself against a malpractice action. Failure to cooperate may result in forfeiture of your protections under the hospital’s medical malpractice policy. You have the right to have your CIR representative present during the questioning if you believe that you may be subject to hospital discipline.

This is intended to provide general information only. It is not a substitute for legal advice or representation.