1. Collect Information.
If you're present when your friend or family member gets arrested, it means you're an eyewitness. Write down the names of the people present and get their telephone numbers. This will be helpful for the attorney and/or investigator. If visible, write down the Officers' badge numbers and vehicle number. DO NOT approach them to demand this information; you can make matters worse for the person in custody or for yourself. I've represented several people who were arrested for yelling at the officers or demanding information about someone else's arrest.
2. Call an Attorney Immediately.
The earlier an attorney gets involved, the better. Attorneys speak with the arresting officers, to find out what the charges are. For very serious crimes, we might go to the precinct to remind the individual not to talk about anything, other than their basic contact information. We meet with the family at the arraignment so that, when we get in front of the judge, we can make them aware of our client's place in the community. And we work hard to get our client released so that he or she can keep their jobs while fighting the charges.
3. Bring Your Loved One Some Food at the Precinct.
Jail food sucks. Within 3-8 hours of the arrest, bring your loved one a good, hot meal. Chances are, the officers will let them eat it. (keep it simple, like a burger and fries). Bringing food does three things: 1. your loved one gets a good meal; 2. your loved one is reminded that he or she is not alone and people care; 3. the police officers know the individual is part of a caring community. Be friendly with the officers but DO NOT answer any of their questions about the individual or their case. You never know what information could be harmful.
4. Coordinate Family and Friends to Be Present At The Arraignment.
Make sure at least a couple of people are present at the arraignment. Keep in mind there is not way to know exactly when they will be seen, so you may be waiting in court for 4-8 hours. It's worth it, though. When he or she steps out of the cells and sees their family, they don't feel alone anymore. (I've seen grown men cry). Support in the courtroom also makes it more likely that the Judge will release them.
5. If It's a Serious Crime, Know Which Bail Bondsperson You Want to Use.
If you know your loved one is being charged with a felony and/or they have a lengthy criminal record, decide which bondsperson you want to use before you get to court. That way, if the Judge sets bail, you can be on the phone right away to get the process moving.
You may feel helpless when someone you care about is arrested. But you aren't. Put your stress to good use by writing down witnesses, hiring an attorney, bringing them food, and coordinating with your community to make sure people will be there in court.
If someone you care needs help with a summons ticket or open case, give us a call at 917-819-5656.