When a loved one or friend gets arrested
There are fewer things more traumatic than seeing someone you love get arrested by law enforcement or hearing that they have been taken to jail. You feel helpless. But there are things you can do to help.
- The very first thing you should do is find out what telephone provider that jail uses. Many use Global TelLink (GTL), SecureUS, or ICSolutions. Create an account online and put money on your phone so they can call you collect. In many counties, a half hour phone call averages around $5.00.
- Find out if you can put money on a phone card for them to use to call attorneys.
- Most importantly, remember that when he or she is speaking on the phone everything is recorded. Anything incriminating or anything that could remotely be deemed as a bad fact or an admission, or useful in the prosecution will be forwarded to the DA trying the case. Tell the person not to discuss any details of their case over the phone with anyone, including you. If they do start to speak about details, hang up on them. It may be painful in the moment but it's for the person's long term good.
- Put money on their books. In some counties this can be done online but in others you have to go to the jail and use a machine. It will likely ask for your driver's license information and current address and/or telephone, so come prepared. This is one of the single most supportive things you can do to help a loved one. With this money they can order items like soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and food from commissary.
- Find an attorney. I know the first instinct may be to contact bail agencies instead of paying for an attorney, but oftentimes you can end up saving some money on bail if you have retained a lawyer first.
- Contact a reputable bail agent. It's better if you contact them instead of your loved one because you don't want him or her answering questions to someone that could later be used against them.
- Try to attend court hearings. Prosecutions are the strongest when the accused is seen as just another "body" that moves along the process or can be dehumanized and be depicted more as a list of charges than a real live human being with friends and families and support. Try to attend as many hearings as possible. Understand that when you do go to court to support him or her that you are also making an impression on the court and even the prosecuting attorneys. Please pay attention to the court rules in your jurisdiction.
- Breathe. Understand that your loved one is going through a traumatic experience right now and that you may be too. A pause or a breath, well-timed, could be worth more than any of the above.