If the police have taken your friend away, do not panic. Remain calm and act quickly to get them the help they need as soon as possible after their arrest. Precious time may mean the difference between them being forced into making a false confession, making a mistake and admitting to something they didn’t do, getting fingerprinted, or being pulled into a lineup where they are risk for being mistaken as a criminal offender.
As well, their emotional well being can be at stake, because being in a jail is an extremely traumatic experience. The sooner you can get help to them, the better.
What can you do to help your loved one?
1. Find out exactly where your friend is being held and under whose jurisdiction.
2. Ask your friend for the exact criminal offense that has been charged against him. Be aware that if they are making a phone call to you, the police are likely recording the call. And the police are under no obligation to tell you anything, keep that in mind. Remind your friend to cooperate with the police by being polite and respectful, but to say nothing about the charges at all unless a criminal defense lawyer represents him or her.
3. Find a criminal defense attorney willing to speak with you now. Many attorneys have 24-hour answering services. Some attorneys, especially those who are building their practices, will answer their phones 24/7. Find out if the attorney gives a free initial consultation or if you need to pay for the first meeting.
4. Inform the attorney of the police station or jail where your friend or family member is being held. See if the attorney can protect your friend’s rights for that evening. Do not sign any long-term contracts that will lock you or your friend into paying for an attorney you do not even know. You may ask the lawyer to represent you at the arraignment, which may take place the next day, when charges are formally read against your loved one.
5. Ask your friend if his rights were read to him before he was questioned. By law all arrested persons must be read their Miranda Rights, which includes the right to be silent and the right to have an attorney and notification that anything they say can and will potentially be used against them in a court of law.
6. There will be a hearing, or arraignment, where the formal charges will be read against your friend. You may or may not choose to retain the attorney you originally contacted for help.
7. At this time, if your friend or family member cannot afford to retain an attorney, a public defender will be appointed to represent them. Many public defenders are wholly dedicated to their work; however, they are also extremely busy. Ask around to family and friends to find an experienced, trustworthy and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.
8. If you are a friend, and your friend cannot afford an attorney or needs help beyond that which you can provide, consider getting in touch with their parents or other family members. Even if the person has a drug or alcohol problem, the parents may be willing to bail the person out of jail.
9. Your friend is probably embarrassed and humiliated about his or her situation. Please keep the situation as confidential as you can. Call employers if need be, but do not go into detail about the situation. Use discretion.
Friend or Family Member Arrested? Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney