There are probably a lot of things running through your mind after you or someone close to you has been arrested. It's a stressful and confusing time, so it may be hard to stay calm. However, it's important to keep a clear head as you navigate the legal process after you've been arrested.
There are a few standard steps you should expect after a police officer has arrested you. These formalities will eventually lead to your first court date. You should be aware of your situation, the charges against you, and your rights as you go through the process. We'll explain the legal process after an arrest, including jail booking, resources, and public information. We'll also go over the bail process and the first court date after your arrest.
At the time of your arrest, you'll most likely be handcuffed and escorted by officers to the local precinct. Here, you'll go through the jail booking process. An officer will collect your personal information, like full name, date of birth, address, and other details. You will also have your photo and fingerprints taken as identifying information.
Officers will also search you and take away your personal things, such as keys, wallets, jewelry, watches, and bags. Your belongings will be stored at the precinct while you are still in custody. You'll be able to retrieve these items once you leave custody.
During the jail booking process, officers may ask you to participate in a lineup or ask you questions about the charges against you. It's in your best interest to say nothing and ask for a lawyer. Having a lawyer guide you and advise you during the early stages of the legal process is important. If you can't afford to hire a lawyer, you'll have a court-appointed attorney instead. These criminal defense lawyers typically have a lot of experience, so it's a good idea to listen to their counsel.
When you've been arrested suddenly, you may not have the time to tell your loved ones. If you're worried your loved ones won't be able to find you, then you'll be relieved to know that your arrest information can be found online. The information about your arrest is public knowledge, so people you are close to can search records to find your location. For federal crimes, it will be easy to search out information for a defendant. But for other crimes, people may have to check individual cities or state facilities for information.
For those who are worried about someone they think might have been booked into jail, you can find this information with a bit of searching. The booking photo, location, and sometimes information about the charges are available with an online search. The booking photo is a way for loved ones to verify the person. If you can't find the person you are searching for in any of the databases or the location isn't right, there are a couple of possibilities. If you aren't finding their booking information, they may have been released. Or, due to reasons at the jail, they may have moved locations and the system just hasn't updated.
After the jail booking process, you'll have to undergo the usually long wait for arraignment. This process can take several hours or even the next day depending on how busy the courts are that particular day. The arraignment is a process that will detail the facts of your case as well as your rights. Also, at this hearing, a judge will ask you whether you have a lawyer or if you want a public defender. You'll be able to choose a court-appointed attorney if you can't afford to pay for a lawyer.
The judge may determine your bail based on several factors, such as flight risk, ties to the community, and the danger the defendant poses to the public. In general, though, particular charges have typical bail amounts. Once your bail is set, you can pay the amount in cash right away, or someone else close to you can help you. Bail bonds are also an available option if you don't have enough money to cover the total bail amount.
Once you make bail, you'll be able to leave police custody until the date of your next court hearing. If you don't make bail, you'll have to stay in custody until your court date. Making bail is important, as you'll be able to better prepare for your court appearance and get your personal affairs in order in case you will need to serve jail time.
Once you've been released from prison, you'll need to keep up with your court date and attorney communications. If you miss your court date, there will be serious consequences. If you got a bail bond, you'll lose out on the money and collateral you put up to get the bond. If you paid in cash to the court, you'll lose this money as well. So, it's critical you show up for your court date even if you're out on bail.
Getting arrested and going through the legal process is stressful. At times, the process can be confusing and time-consuming. However, if you feel prepared, it might make the whole ordeal easier to manage. If you know that you are or might be arrested, it's a good idea to prepare yourself for the process. One of the most important tips to get through the booking and arraignment process is to reach out to a lawyer immediately. Having a lawyer to guide you through this stressful process is essential. If someone close to you needs to find you once you are in the system, they'll be able to look you up online. Our search engine makes looking up an inmate simple.