Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Oh No! My Loved One Was Arrested...What Do I Do?

This is a scenario that no one wants to find themselves in, but it unfortunately does happen. So your loved one is being/has been arrested, and you're trying to figure out what to do. Here are a few things to keep in mind and be aware of in the early stages of what appear to be likely criminal charges.

1. Don't interfere with law enforcement. If law enforcement is going to arrest someone, either on a warrant or because of conduct that they've been made aware of through an investigation, there is nothing that you can do to stop this. Don't hide a person that law enforcement is looking for, as that can be Obstructing a Peace Officer or Aiding and Abetting a Fugitive. Don't get in the middle of an arrest, as that can be Resisting Arrest or Obstructing. Let the arrest happen, and then deal with it after the fact. If you get in the middle of the situation, you can only make things worse, both for your loved one and for yourself.

2. Don't make statements to law enforcement, and advise your loved one not to either. I can't even tell you how many of my cases are proven largely by my client admitting to violations of the law, or by family members making statements that end up being harmful to my client. So the best course of action is to keep your mouth closed, and to advise your loved one being arrest to not make any statements either.

3. Hire an attorney as soon as possible. This should go without saying, but having an attorney involved at the earliest stages of a criminal case is important. Bond is set by the Court, and it's always helpful for the defendant to have an attorney to make a bond argument on his/her behalf. If there is no attorney involved, the defendant has to provide information to the Court directly, and could mistakenly make statements that can later be used against him/her. So the involvement of an attorney early on is important.

4. If the defendant can't afford an attorney, request a public defender as soon as possible. In most of the areas where I practice law, the public defenders are extremely qualified and excellent attorneys. So if a private attorney isn't in the cards financially, applying for the public defender is the next best option. And not delaying this application means that the public defender can begin working on the case as early as possible.

5. But don't think that a hired attorney or a PD can get a defendant out of jail in the middle of the night or on the weekend. In some low level cases, bonds are set by a schedule adopted in advance, so that people can post bonds and get out of jail right away. But for felonies or higher level misdemeanors, there aren't bond schedules. And it isn't required that defendants be brought before the Court for a bond setting until 48 hours. It simply isn't realistic to expect hired attorneys or PDs to be able to get defendants out of jail in the middle of the night or on weekends. Often we don't have the judge's cell phone number. And if we do, it won't do any good to make a call, as they're not going to set bond after a telephone call from one attorney. A hearing has to occur, where both the State and the defendant can make bond arguments. So don't expect middle of the night or weekend results. And don't buy into the hype from lawyers who tell you that they can achieve middle of the night or weekend results.

6. Be patient. I know that this is exactly the type of thing that people don't want to hear when their loved one has been arrested. But it's probably the single most important piece of advice. The wheels of justice turn slowly. Dismissals usually don't happen at the first hearing; and trials aren't immediate. It takes time to get discovery (police reports, photos, recordings, etc.) and plea offers. And it takes time for a criminal defense attorney to review this information and discuss it with a defendant. So even though it's terribly difficult, be patient.

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