You just got a call in the middle of the night and learned that your sibling, child, partner, spouse or other loved one was arrested. What is your next move?
For a lot of people, this is a very frightening moment. Feeling concern for your loved one is normal, but when you are not sure how to help them, your feelings can shift to panic, which is the last thing you need in an emergency. If a loved one is arrested and facing criminal charges, the best thing for you to do next is stay calm, take rational actions, and create a plan.
Once you learn a loved one has been arrested and charged, you need to find out whatever you can next, including where they are being held and the name of the police station or center. Usually, you will be able to get this information from your loved one when they call you. Never discuss any details of the case over the phone; only talk about the basics of the arrest and where they are being held. Any phone conversations you have in this situation could be recorded and used against your loved one down the road.
Keep records of everything that pertains to the case. Log all the call times between you and your loved one and between you and any law enforcement representative. If you asked the officers not to question your loved one, make sure you make a note of that and to whom you spoke.
Speak to Your Loved One
Once you have learned where your family member or friend is being held, speak to the police department that arrested them. Ask about the charges and whether you are allowed to visit. If you are allowed to visit them, tell them not to say anything about what happened —including the incident and the arrest— until their lawyer is present.
Contact an Attorney
For a minor crime, a person may be let out of jail within a day. However, for more serious charges, you need to contact a criminal lawyer as soon as you can. You can likely speak to an attorney before you even are able to visit your loved one in jail, but this does depend on the situation. In either case, when your loved one has an experienced criminal defense attorney on their side, it does increase the chance of them getting the most favorable outcome possible in their particular case.
Offer Your Support
Your loved one is likely experiencing a lot of emotional turmoil, which can be a lot for one person to bear on their own. Offering your loved one a strong support system is one of the most important things you can do in this situation. Be physically accessible and emotionally available to your loved one. They will likely have appointments with their lawyer, future court dates and other meetings and dates that they may need your help with. During this time, your love, patience and help can make a big difference for your loved one.
Thanks to the Law Office of Richard J. Banta, P.C. for their insight into what to do if a loved one has been arrested.