It’s the phone call you never want to get: a friend or family member has been arrested and taken to jail. While this can be an emotional time, it’s crucial to stay clear-headed while you figure out your first steps. Of course, your priority is getting the individual released from jail as quickly as possible; however, several things must take place before that can happen.
Stay calm and don't divulge information
First, remind both yourself and the arrested individual to stay calm. It’s important to think clearly as you proceed with next steps.
If your loved one is speaking to you by phone, remind them not to say anything incriminating. The phone call is most likely being monitored and/or recorded and can be used against them later. They have the right to remain silent, and they should not divulge any unnecessary information before speaking with a lawyer. You can find out where the person is being held and what the charges are, but don’t ask for details.
Figure out the details
The next step is to contact the District Attorney’s office to inquire about the arrested individual. If your loved one was driving a car at the time of the arrest, and the car was impounded, ask how you can get it released to a third party. Find out about the arraignment date and time and any other necessary details.
At the arraignment, the individual will have their charges read to them; then, they’ll have the opportunity to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. The court then determines the type and amount of bail required to have the individual released from jail. The bail ensures that your loved one will return for his or her court dates in the future and not commit any additional crimes or flee to a different state or jurisdiction. Individuals who are accused of minor crimes and who don’t appear to pose a threat to the community — based on criminal background, financial resources, and other factors — will be assigned a lower amount of bail. Those who are accused of more dangerous crimes or whose release may create a threat to the community will be charged a higher amount of bail or can even be held without bail. Additionally, if the individual is a flight risk, he or she could be held without bail.
At this point, it’s crucial to make sure the arrested party has legal and financial support as needed. If the individual doesn't already have a lawyer, you should find a criminal defense attorney for them as quickly as possible. Alternatively, they can be appointed a public defender. Either way, ensure that the individual has legal representation to support them.
In addition, if the bail amount is higher than your loved one can immediately pay, a bail bonding agent can help. Bail bonding agents are paid a premium to post the bond, which guarantees that the defendant will appear whenever required. For more information, see How Bail Bonds Work.
If someone you love has been arrested and you need help now, contact us to determine how to proceed. We’ll work with you to ensure your loved one is released as quickly and painlessly as possible.