What to Do If You Get “The Call” – A Friend or Family Member Has Been Arrested

So you’re out to dinner with friends, or at an event at your child’s school, or you get a phone call from someone and they confide in you that they or a family member have been arrested. What do you do? How should you handle this conversation, and help them get the assistance that they need? How can you, as someone that person trusts, help them make the right decisions and hire an effective criminal defense lawyer?

The first thing you should do is just listen. Hear what they have to say, and express understanding for the predicament that they are experiencing. Ask them how they are feeling at the moment. Above all else, try not to be judgmental. This isn’t the time to debate your personal feelings on crime and punishment. Your friend is sharing a very serious matter with you, and they are sharing it for a reason. They may want your help, or just a friendly ear to listen to them. The only way that you will know what you can do to help is to listen.

Here is some valuable information you can share to help them make the right choices and regain control of their lives:

Ask them if they have obtained an attorney yet. Often, people don’t know where to turn to find an attorney. Or they may be uncertain if they can afford to hire counsel. Or they are just paralyzed from the shock of being arrested and are too traumatized to look for counsel. It may also be that they believe that they can’t do anything until the upcoming court hearing. You can assist them in getting past these issues and help them understand that it is crucial that they obtain an attorney to properly advise them and represent their interests immediately.

After someone has been arrested they have a million questions swirling around in their mind. What is going to happen to me? Am I going to go to jail? What possible sentence am I facing? How is this going to affect my job? Do I have to report it? Will I be fired? Will I be deported from the country? How long is this going to last? How will I ever get through this ordeal? Seeking the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney can help to address all of these questions and more. And most of the time an initial consultation is free of charge, with no obligation to hire that attorney.

Most people don’t understand that being arrested and charged with a crime doesn’t always mean that formal charges will be filed by the prosecuting authority. After someone is arrested, the case is typically assigned to a prosecutor to determine if formal charges should be filed. This part of the process requires the prosecutor to interview the arresting police officers and witnesses, evaluate the evidence, and determine if the case can be proven in a courtroom. This is not a public hearing. It is a private meeting that takes place in the prosecutor’s office. Usually this decision is made anywhere from 7 to 30 days after the arrest, and before the next court hearing. If the person does not hire counsel, then there won’t be anyone to contact the prosecutor and get involved in this very important decision making process. This is the time when a lawyer can be very effective, and advocate on their client’s behalf for a dismissal of the charges, reduction of the charges, or other appropriate disposition of the case.

If your friend already has an attorney, or has spoken with counsel, ask them if they are comfortable with their choice. It’s both appropriate and advisable to speak with more than one attorney before making a decision about who to retain. Remember, they are putting their lives and future in the hands of the attorney they selected. This is not a decision to take lightly or make hastily. Think about it, when you decide to buy a home or a car – major purchasing decisions in your life – do you buy the first one you see or shop around? It shouldn’t be any different when hiring a criminal defense attorney.

As someone they trust, your friend is confiding in you and looking for guidance. You can and should suggest an attorney to them. As with any referral, let them know that you have an attorney who you know, like, and trust. If you personally had a good experience with that lawyer, and you are comfortable telling them about it, share your story with them. Then write down the attorney’s name and phone number, and offer to call the attorney and make the introduction. Your friend and the attorney will appreciate your efforts, and you’ll be happy with the knowledge that you made a difference!

Written by Law Offices of Barry M. Wax

Law Offices of Barry M. Wax

For 34 years, I have provided both State- and Federal-Level representation for those facing charges ranging from wire fraud, mortgage fraud, and healthcare fraud to identity theft, drug trafficking, money laundering, murder, DUI, domestic violence and numerous other criminal charges. In every case, it is my commitment to one-on-one service and support that has separated the Law Offices of Barry M. Wax from other criminal defense firms. When it comes to your future, you need a strong defense and the ability to make the right choices and regain control of your life.