One in twenty-five Americans was arrested in 2011. While the majority of these arrests don’t have any impact on the everyday person, it can be traumatic if a loved one is incarcerated.
Unfortunately, there’s really nothing you can do to change the fact that your loved one is going to jail; interfering with the arrest or the evidence may get you arrested as well. Thus, the support you offer must come from behind the scenes.
Consider the following ways to provide your loved one with emotional, financial, and legal support.
During the Arrest
During the arrest, make sure your loved one takes a few things with them to jail, mainly identification, quarters (for making phone calls), and any prescriptions they have for conditions like high blood pressure, anxiety, asthma, diabetes, or epilepsy. While they won’t be able to retain possession of the prescriptions, the jail must make sure they are provided them as prescribed. If possible, make sure they leave things like jewelry, expensive watches, and keys behind.
Get them an Attorney
Hiring an attorney should be among the first moves you make. An attorney will protect their rights and help make sure they are not lured into a false confession. An attorney will also make sure that the arrest and subsequent detainment is legal and that no police brutality, coercion, or any other illegal tactic takes place. If you or your loved one cannot afford to hire an attorney, the courts must provide one. The sooner they request a public defender (a court-appointed attorney) the better: the police cannot interrogate anyone without a lawyer after a lawyer is requested.
Visiting the Jail
Visiting is a good way to provide your loved one with emotional support; it not only allows them to see a friendly face but it also assures them that you are willing to stand with them during a trying time. However, it is important to remember that anything said in the jail between a detainee and a non-attorney can be used in a court of law. For this reason, avoid talking about the case or anything that can be construed as illegal. You should also bring money and put this money in their jail account as soon as possible. This will allow them to purchase basic necessities like shaving cream or toothpaste.
Someone in jail may or may not get bail based on several factors. According to Cornell Law, bail is usually only denied if the arrestee represents a continued danger to the community; if they are a flight risk; if they are accused of violent crimes that are punishable by life imprisonment (or death); if they are accused of certain drug crimes that are punishable by more than ten years; if they have a prior record of felony offenses; or if they are likely to obstruct justice or tamper with witnesses. In other instances, bail is set.
The bail amount can vary greatly and typically depends on the prosecution and judge. Serious crimes will usually have a much higher bail than crimes considered less heinous. In many instances, bail can be expensive and difficult to pay. This is where a bail bondsmen can be a strong asset. For a fee, bail bondsmen loan you the money needed to procure your loved one’s release. Bondsmen aim to work quickly and often secure the release within just a few hours.