It's the call every parent dreads. Just the sound of the phone in the middle of the night can strike fear in your heart. Regardless of how old your child may be, thoughts of a child that is injured, or worse, flash through your mind. When the call turns out to be a request for help from a jail cell, there is relief knowing that your loved one is safe, but a new problem arises. What do you do now that your child has been arrested?
First, take a deep breath and collect your thoughts. The time they have been allotted for their phone call may be limited. It's also usually a collect call, so you need to get the information you need quickly. Find out where they are, what they have been charged with, and if bail has been set. If you can get a case number, write it down. Stay calm. Getting upset or yelling is not going to change the situation. There will be plenty of time for that later.
Have they been formally charged?
When a person is arrested, they must be processed into the system first. This usually means they are photographed and fingerprinted. The next step is to be formally charged in an arraignment. This simply means that they are brought before a judge where the police him or her what your child is accused of. The judge then sets bail. Please note that, depending on where you live, this may not happen until Monday morning. The bail amount is based on several factors, including the severity of the crime, any previous criminal record, and the flight risk.
Once bail has been set, you can get your child out of jail and move forward with his defense. Find a bail bond service in your area. Due to the nature of their business, many are 24-hour businesses. The bail bonds company will require you to put a 10% deposit on the bond. This means that for a $10,000 bail, you will provide $1,000 (usually in the form of cash) and their company will pay the additional $9,000 to the courts. Your 10% is not refundable. Consider it your fee for using their services. Also, realize that if your child fails to appear in court, you will be held responsible for reimbursing the bail bonds company the remaining money that they fronted for you.
While you are posting bail, start looking for an attorney. If you can get a recommendation from family or friends, great. Please keep in mind that you will need a criminal attorney, not one that writes wills or helps with tax issues. It is important to start this task immediately because a criminal attorney can help guide you through all the legal matters associated with this arrest.
After bailing your child out of jail, the most important thing that you and your family need to do is to stay in close contact with your attorney. Write every court date and appearance on the calendar and do not forget. Not showing up to a court date could result in a bench warrant and bail being revoked. Do not be late. Arrive at the courthouse on time and dressed appropriately.
Furthermore, make sure your child stays out of trouble between now and their court date. The judge will not be happy to learn that there have been additional crimes committed, even if they are just misdemeanors. If your attorney feels it would help, you may also consider drug, alcohol, or even anger counseling before the trial.
Take a deep breath. The phone call could have been worse. You will get through this as a family.
Contact a lawyer like Raymond Martinez Attorney at Law for more information about posting bail.