When to Search for a Lawyer if a Loved One has been Arrested

There are few things more upsetting than learning that a loved one has been arrested. The natural impulse is to first get the person out of custody – usually by arranging for bail – as soon as possible. This is usually a mistake, resulting in the payment of an unnecessarily high bail premium, and perhaps exhausting any funds that will be required for legal representation in court.

In most cases, it is better to obtain legal representation for the person and have the attorney deal with the issue of bail or release on the person’s own recognizance. The reason is this: the arresting law enforcement agency has been provided by the courts with a “bail schedule” listing the amount of bail for each offense charged. This allows persons who have been arrested to arrange for bail during off-hours, and on weekends and holidays.

However, the problem is that the amounts set forth on “bail schedules” are usually much higher than is appropriate for most alleged offenders. Once a person is before the court, the judge (except in cases of flight risk or danger to the community) will adjust the bail amount downward – sometimes to a nominal amount or even a release of the person on his or her own recognizance. Your loved one will need a seasoned attorney to get the best result of a “motion to reduce bail.”

There is another equally important reason to first obtain counsel for an arrested person: the immediate contact of the attorney with the person, whether in or out of custody. One of the most important reasons for this is to preclude statements by the person that can – and will – be used later by the prosecutor against that person in court.

Seemingly innocent or so-called “off-the-record” statements by the person to law enforcement have landed some of those charged with a crime in the state penitentiary, where a much better outcome could have been bargained for, or even a release from all charges.

The point is that venturing into the uncharted waters of arranging bail can be needlessly expensive and detrimental to the person’s legal defense fund.