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When the police showed up at Kenneth Starr's $30 million dollar Upper East Side condo last Thursday to arrest him for fraud and money laundering, the panicked financier-to-the-stars hid in his closet.
A prosecutor argued that fleeing into the arms of his bespoke suits proved that Starr was a flight risk, and the judge denied bail.
Curious about the other do's and don'ts of being arrested in one's apartment, we checked in with criminal defense attorney Jerry Goldman, a blunt-speaking ex-prosecutor and partner at Anderson Kill & Olick in Manhattan.
Here’s the rundown on how to behave when the long arm of the law comes for you at home:
1. Don’t be a Starr: Diving into a closet, a bathroom, or under a bed "makes you look like a jerk," says Goldman. Plus it will be used against you in the bail hearing, could be used in trial to show consciousness of guilt, and raises the risk that you will be physically hurt during the arrest, says Goldman.
2. Have an arrest outfit handy: Most arrests for white collar crimes are actually surrenders negotiated ahead of time between defense lawyers and the investigating authority. You go to jail, rather than it coming for you…an arrangement that is less physically risky for both sides, says Goldman.
But if you’ve rubbed prosecutors the wrong way or there is some other reason they want to amp up the publicity around your case, they may arrest you at home—and tip off the paparazzi about your impending Perp Walk.
“Make sure you don’t look like a jerk walking out in sweatpants, and don’t put a sweater over your head, because you’ll look guilty,” says Goldman. “If you think you’re about to get arrested, make sure you have suit and tie handy.”
Pick pants that stay up without the help of a belt; your potential noose will be confiscated downtown.
3. Leave the smart phone behind “You never know what’s on it and someone might get curious and take a look,” says Goldman. “You might have a calendar item that says ‘Rip off Bobby on Tuesday.’”
Leave your Metro card at home too—transportation will be provided—and make sure there are no illegal substances languishing in the pockets of your arrest clothes.
Don’t forget your eyeglasses (those contacts won’t stay in forever) and explain exactly what prescription medication you need: You won’t be able to take it, but it will be duly noted and, hopefully, furnished later.
4. Stash the travel guide to Burundi Even if your handcuffs don’t arrive with a search warrant, arresting authorities are allowed to search for evidence that might be within your “reachable distance,” says Goldman.
“Make sure you don’t have a plane ticket to an un-extraditable country lying on your dresser, or a guidebook to money-laundering havens on your living room table—keep it with the pornography,” he advises.
Similarly, flush the drugs down the toilet, or better yet don’t keep drugs, money or paperwork in a place where you might be arrested.
5. Zip it: Don’t confess or give a story that’s easily disputable, e.g., ‘It was my evil twin brother,’ ‘I didn’t have sex with that woman,’ ‘Those weren’t my socks in the video.’
6. Hands off the remote: Particularly in drug arrests, an innocent move can be fatally misunderstood.
“A pro bono client I represented a few years ago was watching tv when the police burst in to arrest him for a probation violation,” says Goldman. “He grabbed for something and they thought he was grabbing for a gun, but he might have been reaching for the remote control to turn the volume down. They shot him.”
7. Don’t punch the photographer on your way out: “It’s lousy press coverage,” says Goldman. If instead your doorman clocks the paparazzi, like Starr’s did to a Daily News photographer attempting to snap the financier’s wife, be sure to “tip him afterward.”