Saturday, January 28, 2006

You're Under Arrest: Now What?

I have yet to have a client who wasn't completely caught off guard when they were arrested. Most "law abiding citizens" break the law every single day (do you always drive the speed limit?). Granted, you will not get arrested for speeding; however, many of us have had one too many drinks or have ingested controlled substances which could put us at risk for being arrested.

Once you're arrested it's important to be respectful with those who are handling you regardless of their attitude toward you. The officers who arrested you can make your experience a great deal easier or make it a living hell depending upon your attitude.

Depending on the offense you were arrested for, the arresting agency will determine the necessity and amount of bail according to a "predetermined" bail schedule depending upon the seriousness of the offense, your likelihood of showing up to court, your potential danger to the community, etc. The arresting agency will also run your name to see if you are on probation on another case, have any outstanding traffic or other warrants or holds. If you have these, bail may be denied entirely and you generally will be brought before a judge within 48 hours (not including weekends).

Once your bail is established, it would generally be worth your time and effort to contact the probation department to see if you qualify for a bail reduction or an own recognizance release ("O.R." release -- release without paying bail). This phone number is generally posted on most jail walls. It takes aproximately 24-hours to process this procedure; however, if you do qualify for it, you can often save yourself thousands in bail bond fees -- money that may be better spent latter for attorney fees, court costs, etc.

Once your bail is set, you have a few options. The most cost-effective would be to contact an attorney and have him appear with you at your initial hearing and try to have you released O.R. or at least try to have your bail significantly reduced. That hearing date is generally within one to three days after your initial arrest. You can also pay the entire bail. You give the exact amount to the court which they hold on to until the end of your case; or pay a bail bond person a fee (generally 10 percent of the established bail) to give the bail amount to the court (however, any fee you pay the bail bond person is nonrefundable).

Getting arrested is an extremely stressful experience. However, it is important that you make the right decisions calmly and are aware of the potential costs and use your resources wisely. Additionally, it is very important that you clear up any outstanding traffic warrants or other arrest warrants that may exist as they will prevent you from being released.

If you have any questions regarding this or any other mattter contact Carl Simons, attorney at law (310) 749-4529.


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