If your spouse, child, or another person you are close to is arrested, he or she will need your help. If you receive a telephone call from a loved one, telling you he or she has been arrested, resist the impulse to ask about the details on the telephone. The call could be from a jail and it will be recorded by law enforcement. Therefore, what defendants say on the jail telephone can be used against them. All you need to ask is where the person is being held, if bail has been set, and who to get as an attorney.
PEOPLE IN JAIL ARE VULNERABLE
People in jail often feel vulnerable, scared and desperate. Law enforcement officers know this and frequently take advantage of the situation. The police and the district attorney’s office may question individuals in jail to obtain information or a confession. Therefore, find an attorney for your loved one as soon as possible. Once an attorney is retained, the police should not question your loved one without the attorney being present. Moreover, jailed inmates need the legal advice and reassurance an attorney can provide.
TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE
Time is critical when a person is arrested. According to Rule 4.1 of the Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure, a person who has been arrested is to be taken before a magistrate without unnecessary delay. Rule 4.1 further requires the individual arrested to be taken before a magistrate within twenty-four hours. https://govt.westlaw.com/azrules/Document/N9A2F29D0A2EB11DEA301E57D8E5330AC?.
The reality is that in most cases a person who has been arrested will have an initial appearance in much less time than twenty-four hours. According to Rule 4.2, the magistrate will set release conditions at the initial appearance. https://govt.westlaw.com/azrules/Document/N9BE7E0E0A2EC11DEA301E57D8E5330AC?. Consequently, time is of the essence in retaining an attorney. If possible, retain an attorney immediately after an arrest occurs so that the attorney can be present at the initial appearance before the magistrate. The attorney can present favorable evidence to support a lower bail. Moreover, the mere presence of an attorney reassures the magistrate the defendant is more apt to appear for court dates.
Assuming the person is eligible for bail, family ties are one of the factors the court uses in setting bail. The criteria for setting bail can be found here: http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/ars/13/03967.htm&Title=13&DocType. The assumption is that a person with strong family ties is less likely to flee the area and miss a court date.
Do not question your loved one concerning the details of the alleged crime. If he or she starts to tell you why the charges are false or other details, ask your loved one not to tell you. Although your intentions may be good, the reality is 99.999% of the population repeats to someone else what they are told. In turn, that person tells someone else. Of course, you think I am different, I will not repeat anything, except maybe to my mother, and she will not tell anyone else for sure. Yes, she will.
This sounds like harsh advice and is difficult to follow. However, you might be subpoenaed and forced to testify against your loved one concerning what he or she said. Arizona does have a marital privilege statute that generally prohibits a person from testifying against a spouse. However, the immunity does not apply if one of the spouses committed a crime against the other. Other important exceptions also exist in which a person can be forced to testify against their spouse. See the marital immunity statute here: http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/ars/13/04062.htm&Title=13&DocType=ARS.
NO SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media is a big danger in a criminal case. Often people feel compelled to post on how unfair their boyfriend, girlfriend, child, husband, wife, etc. was treated. Next, the post will contain an explanation of why their loved one could not possibly have committed the crime. If you do such a post, you are not helping your loved one. The prosecution looks for inconsistent statements made by the defendant. The more statements made by a defendant, the easier it is to find an inconsistency. When an inconsistency is found, the prosecution can begin to chip away at the defense offered by your loved one. In addition, it is irrelevant what Facebook friends think; the objective is to win before a jury.
TALKING TO THE POLICE
Possibly the police will come to question you. You do not have to talk to the police. Although you should never lie to the police, telling the police you do not want to talk to them is not lying, nor is it rude. Do not try to explain to the police why your loved one could not possibly be guilty. Again, what you say may be inconsistent in some manner with a defense offered by your loved one. Therefore, unless you are subpoenaed, you do not have to talk to the police. Do not be hostile or rude to law enforcement officers if they do contact you, but be firm and tell them you do not want to talk with them. You also should consult an attorney if you are involved with the issues that led to your loved one’s arrest. If you were involved in the incident that led to the arrest, it is unlikely the same attorney can represent you and your loved one. That would be a conflict of interest.
The best service you can provide for your loved one is to help him or her retain an attorney as soon as possible. Try not to ask questions concerning the event that lead to the arrest. The less you know, the better. Do not repeat anything you do know. Consult an attorney if you are involved in the events that lead to your loved one’s arrest.