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How To Help A Friend Who Has Been Arrested

Without prior knowledge or experience with criminal proceedings, it’s easy to panic and make poor decisions that can delay the release of your loved one who’s in jail. This article highlights some helpful tips on what you can do if you find yourself in this situation.

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In 2022, there were over 7.36 million arrests made in the United States alone. It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed and unprepared when receiving a call from the police department informing you that a family member or loved one has been arrested and needs your help. Without prior knowledge or experience with criminal proceedings, it’s easy to panic and make poor decisions that can delay the release of your loved one who’s in jail.

This article highlights some helpful tips on what you can do if you find yourself in this situation.

  1. Remain calm and gather information 

If you find yourself present at the time of an arrest, it is important to remain calm in both your words and actions. Encourage your family member, friend, or loved one to do the same. Start gathering information as soon as possible by asking if your loved one is free to leave. If they are not, determine whether they have been arrested or are being detained. Ask about the charges against them, whether there is a warrant and the name of the court that issued it. Find out if the arresting officers are from the state or federal government, and take note of their names and badge numbers. If you can, get the address and phone number of the place where your friend or family member will be taken. You are also allowed to record the events of the arrest on your smartphone to create a record of what transpired. 

Although individuals in the United States have a fundamental right to be protected from unwarranted searches and seizures, there is an exception for those who have been arrested (primarily to ensure that no weapon or dangerous object is present). Therefore, if the arresting officers conduct a pat down or a more thorough search, try to record it using your smartphone, if possible, and make a note of any items they seize. Your family member or friend will probably be subjected to a more extensive search at the location where they are taken (e.g., a local police station). However, you will not be allowed to be present during the search. 

Police officers who make arrests are individuals who are simply performing their job duties. If you approach them with respect and ask them politely, they will likely give you the information you require and may even provide additional information that you hadn’t considered requesting. However, never obstruct the arresting authorities, or you may be subject to criminal penalties (such as impeding government administration, resisting arrest, or disorderly conduct).

  1. Make a plan with your friend or loved one 

It is essential to find a lawyer to represent them and work to arrange their release if bail is set. Provide them with your contact information so they can call you whenever they get a chance. Reassure them that you will do everything possible to assist them. If you have a chance to talk to them before they get into custody, let them know about the “criminal defense rule #1” – that is they have the right to exercise their Fifth Amendment right to remain quiet and not make any statements or answer any questions, except for routine booking questions like name and date of birth. Tell them to inform the arresting officers that they want a lawyer before proceeding with any process. This should prevent law enforcement from attempting to ask your friend or family member any questions. 

Perhaps you receive a call from the local precinct or booking facility regarding the arrest of your friend, family member, or loved one. The most important information to collect is their arrest number. If they don’t have it, request to speak with the arresting officer or detective for this purpose.  This number is crucial for tracking progress throughout the post-arrest proceedings. It is important to be careful about what you say on the phone since your call is likely being recorded. Avoid asking questions or discussing the facts or incident leading to the arrest. Always try to calm your friend, family, or loved one and reassure them that you are working hard to find a criminal defense lawyer for them.  

If you were not present at the scene of the arrest but learned that your friend or family member has been arrested or detained, you can call the district attorney’s office for the county where the arrest took place or the “central booking” for that county. 

  1. Contact an attorney 

Reach out to a criminal defense counsel as soon as you find that a loved one has been arrested. Inform them of all the information you have gathered, including the arrest number and location of your friend. The attorney can immediately go to that place to talk with them and be present if law enforcement attempts to interview them in a lineup. The engagement and presence of a criminal defense counsel is essential for disrupting a detention interrogation and defending your loved one’s rights. 

After an arrest has been made by state law enforcement, there are only two ways for the arrested individual to exit the system- through a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) or by undergoing full processing and arraignment before a judge. An attorney’s early involvement can make a difference in the means of release and potentially reduce the time that your family member, friend, or loved one spends in custody. A DAT is the preferred option, as it allows for direct release of the arrested individual from the precinct with a slip of paper (the DAT itself), providing instructions on the date of their first court appearance.

However, if a DAT is not issued, the arrested individual will be processed through Central Booking and appear in front of a judge for arraignment. This process can take anywhere from twelve to twenty-four hours, depending on how busy the courts are that day. In the case of the arrested individual being taken into custody by federal law enforcement, they must be presented before a judge for arraignment before release. This appearance usually takes place on the same day as the arrest.

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  1. Attend the arraignment 

As stated earlier, if your friend or loved one is not offered a DAT or is taken into custody by federal authorities, they will be brought before a judge for arraignment. During this procedure, your friend will be informed of the charges leveled against them and will be given a chance to plead not guilty. If they are not released on their recognizance, the lawyers, prosecutors, and judges will discuss a bail amount. The severity of the charged offense plays a significant role in determining the figures. Judges consider the risk of flight while making bail decisions. 

  1. Post bail

After gathering information and contacting an attorney, your next line of action is to get your loved one released from jail as soon as possible. One way to do this is by paying the bail fee. The amount of bail required varies depending on the specific circumstances of the case. If you are unable to pay the full bail amount, you can seek assistance from a bail bonds expert firm in your location. They can help you post bail and complete all necessary paperwork to expedite your loved one’s release from jail. 

Being arrested can be an unpleasant situation that no one wants. However, things can happen, and your loved one may be in this situation. Knowing how to navigate this crisis is essential. Hopefully, you’ll consider these tips to get your loved one out of jail as soon as possible. 

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Your "not that regular" all-around gal, writing about anything, thus everything. "There's always more to discover... thus write about," she says in between - GASP! - puffs. And so that's what she does, exactly. Write, of course; not (just) puff.

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