Tuesday, January 26, 2016

My friend was arrested. What do I do?

If your friend was recently arrested, you're probably wondering what a "good friend"  would do for your now-incarcerated buddy.  Depending on the type of charge, and the county of arrest, your friend could be in custody without the ability to post bail (money to be released) for 12 hours-24 hours unless they are not able to post bail.  Every jurisdiction has first appearance court.  Some counties hold first appearance court once a day, other's hold it twice a day.    Your first step is to call the jail (or ask the arresting officer) when your friend will go to his or her first appearance/bond hearing.  (For children, this is called a Detention Hearing). 

Hopefully you already know why your friend was arrested.  But even if you don't know the charge, handcuffs equal Criminal Defense attorney.  Your second step is to call a local Criminal Defense attorney.   This step is important.  Your friend has the absolute right to choose their own attorney, but you can get the ball rolling for your friend by getting an experienced Criminal Law attorney to review the case and possibly attend the bond hearing.  It could be the difference between thousands of dollars of bail, and possibly catching a legal deficiency like a lack of probably cause.  Appearance at bond hearings could range from $500-$1500 or more depending on the day or the charge. You have the right to negotiated that the bond hearing fee be applied to the retainer if your friend hires the attorney. 

How do you find a good Criminal Defense attorney?  If you know a lawyer (or another friend who had a legal run-in), call them and ask for a referral.  If you don't, try avvo.com.   Be patient with this process.  If it's in the middle of the night, go to sleep, wake up at 7am and start calling law firms.  Very few people can get back to you at 2am, but you'll have a great chance at 8am.  Must Criminal Defense attorneys know that emergency calls may come in right before court starts.  

Finally, attend the bond hearing and get as much information as you can about the case and what happens. If your friend cannot get out of custody, make sure that you encourage your friend to invoke their right to remain silent, and hire an attorney.  Be supportive during this tough time.  Remember that it's a better investment to hire a good attorney than to get out of custody if your friend is torn between the two options.  

Plata Schott Attorneys & Counselors at Law is a Jacksonville, Florida law firm with attorneys practicing Criminal Defense, Juvenile Defense, Family Law and Personal Injury Law.  For more information, visit www.plataschott.com. 

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