If you’ve never faced criminal charges and had to navigate through the U.S. legal system, you’re likely unfamiliar with the arrest and bail process. Maybe you feel it’s an elusive topic – something that crosses your mind while you’re watching the news, but you won’t have to confront it in your normal day-to-day. While we genuinely hope that you never find yourself in a holding cell, life can be unpredictable, and adversity strikes when you least expect it. At Off the Hook Bail Bonds, we understand that good people can fall into bad situations. We are always here to help and never here to judge. For the purposes of this article, let’s assume that you or a loved one has been detained by police. Here’s everything you would need to know about how the process unfolds.
First, you got arrested, uh oh! You found yourself in police custody after one of two scenarios:
- You were caught in the act of committing a crime (or under reasonable suspicion of committing a crime) and are arrested at the scene immediately.
- After further investigating a crime, the police identify you as the offender, and a judge issues a warrant for your arrest.
Regardless of the scenario, the arrest and booking process that follows is fairly similar. A police officer will handcuff you and pat you down to ensure you’re not carrying a weapon. They will remind you of your Miranda Rights and your legal ability to remain silent during questioning (these rights are crucial). You’ll then be transported to the police station where the officers will conduct further searches and claim your possessions. The station will provide you with a document that lists all of the personal possessions they claim. You’ll use this form to retrieve your items upon release; however, certain possessions may be withheld indefinitely if they are marked as evidence of the crime. Additionally, the jail may require you to change out of your clothes and wear a specific uniform.
Following the search and claim of possessions, you’ll be fingerprinted and have a mugshot taken for police records. Depending on the crime, you may have your cheek swabbed for DNA analysis. The booking process usually takes several hours to complete. During this time, you’ll be placed in a holding cell and given access to make one phone call to a friend, family member, or attorney. Finally, the police may conduct an interrogation, where they will reiterate your Miranda Rights and ask questions which you can choose not to answer.
Within 48 hours of your arrest (this timeframe is subject to change depending on the situation), you’ll be taken before a judge or magistrate who will determine the severity of your crime, bail amount, and any additional conditions for your release. The judge will also determine the type of bail. There are four primary categories: own recognizance, cash bonds, property bonds, and surety bonds. Surety bail is an Off the Hook bondsman’s domain – the defendant is unable to pay the full amount out-of-pocket and requires a bondsmen agency to cover the cost while they pay an agreed-upon percentage in fees. Once the bail is paid and written agreements are signed, you’re released! You can take a breath for a moment, but what comes next? First, you’ll need to return to your current residence, stay in the area, and make arrangements to appear in court on all scheduled dates. Depending on the conditions of your release, you may be required to wear a GPS monitoring device.
Between the period of release to court appearance, you can either employ your own lawyer or receive a court-appointed attorney (per your sixth amendment right to counsel). You can also choose to represent yourself if desired. During this time, you and your attorney will develop a defense strategy to prove innocence or lessen legal culpability. Thanks to one of our skilled bond agents, you’ll be able to prepare this strategy in the comfort of your own home rather than a holding cell.
Finally, your court date arrives, and a trial by a judge or jury will investigate the crime and charges. The duration of the trial is dependent on a variety of conditions, but eventually, it will conclude when the judge or jury determines the status of your innocence and, if applicable, assigns a sentence for the charges.
Whether it’s you or someone you love, the arrest, bail, and criminal defense process can be overwhelming and challenging to navigate. That’s why our skilled agents at Off The Hook are here to help you get out of jail and back to your life as fast as possible. 24/7, 365 days a year, we’re on call and ready to assist you with high-quality, reliable service. Call us today to learn more!