Odds are the call will come at the most inopportune time – middle
of night, during your work day. The important thing to do is to get information
that will help an attorney help your family member as quickly and efficiently
First of all, keep in mind that the first step in the arrest process is
the arraignment. The arraignment is the first formal court proceeding
where your family member will be informed of the charges and a bail determination
will be made. Typically, the time from arrest to arraignment is 24 hours
– but that can vary depending on the volume of arrests and the nature
of the charges.
At this time – between arrest and arraignment – an attorney
should be called. The attorney will be in a better position to gather
information about the charges, speak to your family member that was arrested
and speak directly to the court in preparation for the arraignment. In
addition, the attorney can access the area where your family member is
held – an area where no family is permitted. This opportunity for
an attorney to speak with your family member prior to the arraignment
is crucial to a successful bail argument and may help with a more thorough
and effective representation during the pendency of the case.
Also, depending on the charges that your family member faces, the court
may set a bail that unless posted, will require your family member to
stay incarcerated. During this time between arrest and arraignment is
a good time to get a sense of the funds that are available for the potential
bail conditions. Usually cash is king. Having the cash with you at the
arraignment avoids the possibility that your family member is taken from
the court to a jail facility – like Rikers Island – before
release. If your family member is transported to a jail facility in the
meantime, even when you post bail, it may take several hours for your
family member to be released.
Lastly, there are several factors that are relevant to a Judge when making
a bail determination, but one very important factor is community ties.
The reason is that the more ties a defendant has to the community, the
greater the desire to stay and the weaker compulsion to flee. Therefore,
come one come all. Gather as many family members as possible and stack
the courtroom. The impression that this leaves with the Judge can only
help lead to a lower bail amount or perhaps no bail at all.