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 as possible.
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.