The Single Biggest Misconception About Getting Arrested
If there is one and only one thing you take away from this entire book it is this: when under arrest, or if your loved one has been arrested, do not panic.
Everyone assumes, often incorrectly, that an arrest means they will be going to prison. While some might, a large number, maybe even the majority, will not spend any significant time behind bars – especially if you have a competent attorney.
So do not panic when the cops knock on your door. Do not do anything stupid when you see those red and blue lights in your rearview. Stay calm, cooperate, stay quiet, and call your attorney.
What You Can Expect: A Timeline Of The Hours And Days Following Your Arrest
Getting arrested is scary. Feeling backed into a corner and having our freedom slowly stripped away is viscerally terrifying, and any wrong move can make your case far worse than it is. But what happens next is routine for the cops and prosecutors involved.
If you know what to expect, it will lose its edge for you as well, and you will be smarter and better prepared. Less likely to make a mistake at any point in the procedure. So here is how it usually goes:
- Five minutes to a few hours: You will be booked. Not in all cases, but the vast majority of them will require the police to officially take you into custody and put your information into the system.
- Within a few hours: Your personal effects will be taken and logged, your fingerprints will be recorded and any identifying information taken down.
- Within 24 hours or on Monday, if you were arrested on the weekend: You will be presented to a judge for an arraignment hearing.
- During the arraignment hearing: The judge will determine probable cause, officially charge you with the crime, and then set bail.
- After the hearing: Depending on the outcome, you will either be released, released on bail, or held if you are deemed a flight risk or danger to the community.
Thus, in most cases, in about 24 hours, you will be back home. So again, do not panic, and always, always make sure to have an attorney to advise you. Because you cannot trust the police and law enforcement to have your rights or best interests in mind.
The Myth Of Miranda: You Have To Stand Up For Your Rights
Popular culture and TV have gone a long way towards brainwashing us to believe that the police must always inform us of our rights. The famous Miranda rights litany can be quoted in part by almost anyone. Unfortunately, the “right to remain silent” and the rest only kick in once you are under arrest, which means until then, the police do not need to inform you of any particular rights whatsoever.
If you are only temporarily under investigation, for example, when pulled over on a traffic stop, the police have the right to detain you temporarily. If they are suspicious of criminal activity, such as drinking while driving, they have the right to investigate further, including asking for your name and identification.
Only if they decide to arrest you does Miranda come into effect, and they MUST read you your rights, if they do not, this may provide a strong path to getting any charges dismissed later. Until they are read to you, however, the police are allowed to ask you anything they like, but you do not have to answer.
If you do answer, know that those answers can and will be used against you, so admit to nothing, say nothing. Insist on reaching out to a lawyer or politely request to leave if you are not under arrest. These are your rights, it’s up to you to know and use them.
Contact An Attorney As Soon As Possible
While everything mentioned so far is indeed vital to remember. Here is the single most important piece of information to retain: the phone number of an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you do not already know one, there is one printed on the cover of this book.
Do not simply write it down somewhere, nor just save it to your phone: memorize it. The police are likely to take your effects away and prevent you from using your phone. If you do not have the number memorized, by heart, you may not be able to call one. You will have to settle for a public defender, and while that is absolutely better than none (I have been one myself, so I speak from experience), you are better off having a fully trained and specialized defense attorney on your side.
Either way, make sure you speak to an attorney as soon as possible after your arrest or, even better, before it. Do nothing. Say nothing. Answer no questions without an attorney. And insist, politely, on your right to representation until you are given the chance to call me, another attorney, or have one appointed to you.
If you do not already have one memorized, here’s my number: (425) 276-7390. Start memorizing it now.
What You Need To Know About Bond And Bail To Stay Out Of Jail
Unless you are charged with a particularly serious crime, are at risk of flight, or are considered a risk to society, you will be offered a chance to stay out of jail until your trial by posting bail. This means setting aside money, which is paid to the court, as a guarantee that you will come back for your trial. The sum is lost if you do not show up later but is reimbursed if you do. Your lawyer can help you choose, but it is important to understand the difference between different bail and bond options.
- Bail is when you pay the court the money directly. This option is rarely available for low-income individuals or families.
- Property Bond is when you offer a piece of property, such as a car or home, as collateral for the bail. If you do not show up later, those belong to the court now.
A note on working with a bondsman: Most ordinary Washington families can afford neither option and so are forced to work with a bondsman. These are a service that posts the bail amount for you in exchange for, usually, a 10% payment. This payment is lost EVEN if you show up to court, highlighting just one more way the justice system is rigged against those without and for those with money.
How Is Your Bail Or Bond Amount Determined?
The exact amount of bail requested is determined by the judge during the arraignment hearing, based on a number of different factors:
- Severity: The most significant is the severity of the crime you are charged with. The more serious the crime, the higher the bail. Thus, the bail for murder will be much higher than a DUI, but a DUI with high blood alcohol content, or that caused a death, will be higher than one without.
- Exposure: If your case is high profile or highly mediatized, you may face higher bail.
- History: Your criminal record can influence bail, especially if you have a history of not turning up to court hearings or trials.
- Reliability: If you are a flight risk and have the means to flee or very few reasons not to, that can increase your bail. On the other hand, a steady job and ties to the community can lower it.
- Safety: If you are a danger to the community, that is likely to lead to significantly higher bail. If one is offered at all.
In the end, the judge will either not require bail, not offer it, or set an amount which could be anywhere from $500 dollars to $5 million.
If you are able to pay the bail or set up a bond, you will then be free to go on the condition you return for your trial. If you do not, you lose what you paid and any collateral you gave.
For more information on What To Do Immediately Following An Arrest In Washington, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (425) 276-7390 today.