A family member or other loved one, let’s say a friend, is arrested. You’re likely to feel scared and helpless and your friend probably feels the same, multiplied many times.
You now have some simple freedoms your friend has mostly lost, such as making calls, using the internet, and getting answers to your questions. Here are a few things you can focus on to help your loved one when they’re less able to help themselves.
As soon as you know there’s been an arrest
If you’re with your friend when they’re arrested, try not to get arrested too. You won’t change the officers’ minds and you can’t do anything for your friend if you’re locked up too.
Be polite to the police and try to get the most basic facts from them.
Where are they taking your friend? What are the charges? What’s the officer’s name and what city, county, etc., do they represent? Do they have a business card or fact sheet for you? If there’s a warrant, how can you get a copy?
Whether you saw the arrest or you’re hearing about it from a “first phone call,” be calm. Try to remind your friend they have the right not to talk about what happened until they have a lawyer. Tell them to try to remain polite and calm, and focus on getting out, at a time.
If your friend needs medicine soon, act now
If your friend has medication or other needs, don’t be afraid. Give the authorities whatever documentation you can and ask what to do next to be sure your friend has what they need when they need it.
Contact an attorney
Now that you have basic facts and medical issues raised, legal protection is critical. Every minute may seem like forever, but a great deal has already taken place without legal representation.
Everyone arrested has the right to an attorney. They have many other rights too, including the famous right to remain silent, but without an advocate, such rights might not count for much.
Using the facts you’ve gathered, the attorney’s first step will likely be discovering as much as possible from you, the police, your friend, and possible witnesses.
The arraignment happens fast
Perhaps in less than 24 and up to 48 hours after the arrest, there will be a first court appearance (the arraignment). Your friend will already have to plead guilty, not guilty or “no contest.” The judge will decide whether your friend will stay in custody or be released on bail, and the bail amount.
Because the arraignment comes fast and means so much to your friend, seek immediate and competent legal help. An attorney will probably already prove essential in advising how to find bail, how your friend should plead, and the facts and legal issues that may matter now.