Mountain Law: Arrested – What now?
Being arrested and charged with a criminal offense is not a pleasant experience, but there are things a person can do in this situation, regardless of their guilt or innocence, to help themselves. Here are some suggestions.
>Use your phone call to arrange bond. A person that is arrested for a crime will be brought to a detention facility for “booking.” They are entitled to make only one phone call. Depending on the charge, the person may have to stay in jail until the next business day to have a judge decide the amount of bond. That could mean staying over a weekend or holiday. The amount of the bond will be based on the person’s criminal history (if any); whether they have ever failed to appear in court after being released on bond; and other pertinent factors. The person must remain in jail until they pay the amount of the bond. With some misdemeanor charges the amount of bond is predetermined and an arrested person can theoretically pay the bond amount and leave the jail at any time after booking without appearing before a judge.
A person under arrest may think to use their phone call to reach out to a trusted friend or family member. However, if the person does not have access to money to post bond, it might be wise for them to use the phone call to contact a bail bondsman who can lend them the bond money as needed. This will enable them to get out of jail as quickly as possible, which should be their first priority.
Keep in mind that the telephone at the detention facility may not be particularly private and it might be better to talk to a trusted person about the situation when there is no chance of anyone eavesdropping.
An arrested person should tell the sheriff’s deputies at the jail if a bondsman is on the way because the person might be allowed to remain in their own clothes in the booking area rather than being forced to turn over their personal belongings and change into jail garb.
>Consider the timing of contacting a lawyer. An arrested person has a right to talk to a lawyer. As a practical matter, however, demanding a lawyer can make a person appear guilty and could later be used against them if the case goes to trial. A better strategy might be for the person to remain quiet, post bond to get out of jail, then contact a competent criminal defense lawyer once they are released.
If a person is interrogated by law enforcement while in detention, the questioning must stop if they demand a lawyer. A good way of handling this might be to say something like the following: “I feel like I am being accused unfairly and I don’t want to talk anymore. If this questioning continues, I will ask for a lawyer.”
>Be careful what you say. When a person is approached by law enforcement for suspicion of a crime, they should be respectful and try to say as little as possible without seeming overly secretive. Remember that anything said during an arrest and booking can, and mostly likely will, be used later on if the case goes to trial. People generally talk more when they are nervous, so it can actually make a person appear guiltier by repeatedly protesting their innocence than simply keeping their mouth shut. As the bard warned, don’t protest too much.
When a person is arrested, his or her first concern should be arranging bond to get out of jail; they should consider waiting to contact a lawyer until after they are released. They should say as little as possible without being disrespectful. Overall, they should not do or say anything that they wouldn’t want told someday to a jury deciding their case.
Noah Klug is principal of The Klug Law Firm, LLC, a general law practice in Summit County emphasizing real estate and business law. This week’s column was written with Coleen O’Leary, a criminal defense attorney in Summit County, who may be reached at (970) 485-0098 or email@example.com.
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