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What to Do When Someone You Know is Arrested (A Step by Step Guide)

Brian J Smith Dec. 3, 2013

Imagine you get a call in the middle of the night from your best friend or family member saying they’ve been arrested and need your help. What do you do? Follow these six steps to help your friend or loved one avoid a criminal record.


Photo by Michelle B.

1) Find out where the person is being detained.

The first question to ask is what police agency is holding your friend and where the agency is located. Ask this question regardless of who calls you, i.e. the loved one or the police officer. Tell your loved one that you will contact a criminal defense attorney and to avoid answering any questions until the attorney arrives. The same concept applies to you as well – your phone conversation can be recorded and used against your friend later. Keep in mind that it is legal for police to lie about finding evidence, witnesses, or anything else that they think will help them extract information.

2) Determine what the charge is.

Rather than asking your friend/family member what happened, ask what they are being charged with. Again, your call may be monitored, so it’s best not to discuss details until you have contacted a criminal defense attorney. Note that if the person being arrested is an adult, the police are not required to tell you anything.

If you are having trouble with either of the above steps, a bail bondsman might be able to help you track your friend or loved one.

3) Make sure they know not to submit to any tests or answer questions.

Tell your friend not to take any tests, unless they are in a state that requires blood alcohol tests, or answer any questions until a criminal defense lawyer arrives. Advise the person to refrain from making any statements about the alleged events that led to the arrest until he or she receives advice from the lawyer.

4) Call a Criminal Defense Attorney

Locate a local criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. While some people may believe that hiring a lawyer early on may make a person look guilty, this is simply not true. Remember, police interrogation tactics are so powerful they often result in false confessions from innocent people. Seemingly mundane statements can be manipulated and turned against an individual, and it takes an attorney to ensure that your friends rights are not infringed upon.

If you are calling outside normal business hours, you can try leaving a voice mail or e-mail. It’s best to go with a private attorney at this point. Public defenders are often too overbooked to give your friend’s case the personal attention it needs. Once you have located a lawyer, give them the address of the station your friend is at, as well as any other information you have.

5) Collect money for legal fees

Gather as much money as you can for bail and lawyer fees. While it’s tempting to focus on bailing your friend out of jail as quickly as possible, the biggest priority should be finding a quality lawyer. Bailing a friend out will not stop them from being convicted and sentenced later. That requires a criminal defense attorney.

6) Confirm that your friend was mirandized

Finally, you’ll want to confirm that your friend was mirandized before being interrogated by police. The interrogation will not hold up in court if the police failed to inform your friend of their Miranda rights.

Hopefully you’ll never need this information, but if someone you know is ever in need, it helps to be prepared. To learn more about your rights after an arrest, or to find a criminal defense lawyer in Las Vegas, contact Brian J. Smith at (702) 380-8248 today.