Lawyers: What to Do If Your Client Is Arrested

It’s the middle of the night, and you’re deep in a sound sleep when your cell phone rings. As you shake the cobwebs from your head you realize that one of your friends, clients, or heaven forbid a family member has been arrested. Your instincts kick in and you realize that you have to act fast.

You should start by gathering as much information as you can in what is probably a very limited time period. First, advise them not to make any statements to anyone, including the police or family members, and definitely not to cellmates! That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be cooperative with the police – it means that they shouldn’t make a bad situation worse by incriminating themselves. Second, find out what crime they were arrested for. If they know, you should try to get the name of the police department that arrested them and ask if you can talk with the arresting officer. You’ll need to determine where they are at that moment, when they will be transported to jail, and what jail they will be taken to. Third, get a contact number for a family member or close friend so that you can contact that person and assist in arranging for bail.

Your next step is to contact a criminal defense attorney with whom you have a relationship. The two of you can then get on the phone with the contact person and discuss what is going to happen and how to get the person out of jail.

It’s important to understand the next steps in the process of being booked and taken to court for an initial appearance. In virtually all jurisdictions, you must be brought before a judge within 24 hours of your arrest. If it is a federal case, the person will not be able to be released from custody until they have been brought before a federal magistrate judge. However, if it is a state case, the person may be able to post a bail bond immediately, and be released without going before a state court judge.

A bail bond is like an insurance policy that ensures that the person who has been arrested will come to court to answer the charges, and not flee and become a fugitive. The more serious the charge, the higher the bail bond amount. However, there are certain cases which require that you be brought before a court prior to release, such as domestic violence or crimes punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Let’s assume the arrest is for a crime for which a bail bond can be posted, and the bond amount is $10,000. In that scenario, there are two options. The first is to contact a bail bondsman. A bail bondsman is like an insurance agent. They post the bail bond on behalf of the person in custody, for a fee which is typically 10% of the bail amount. Therefore, if the bond is $10,000, the bondsman’s fee will be $1000. This fee is not refundable.

The second option is to post a cash bond. If you choose that option, then you can post the entire $10,000 bond with the court. In that scenario, when the case is over, if the defendant returns to court as required, the entire $10,000 will be returned to the person who deposited it. Keep in mind that this is a very simple explanation of the bail bond process, and your criminal defense attorney can further explain all of the requirements that go along with posting bond, and the pros and cons of using a bail bondsman or posting a cash bond.

If bond cannot be posted, then the person who was arrested will be taken to court for an initial appearance. At this hearing, the judge will advise the person of the charges, determine if they can afford to hire counsel, and address their release on bond. Having a criminal defense attorney at this hearing can make the difference between having to post a bond or being released without having to post one. If a bond has to be posted, an experienced criminal defense attorney will try to obtain a bond for the least amount of money.

Your client will likely have many questions, and it’s important that you’re as prepared as possible, and that you remain calm and reassuring throughout the conversation. It’s critically important that your client finds a criminal defense attorney who will fight for his or her rights each step of the way – and that they hire that  attorney ASAP. Swift, strategic action is the best way to address this situation before it gets out of hand. Please contact me today if you’d like to learn more!

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.