There are probably few things more stressful than watching your loved one get arrested or hearing about it after the fact. Here are the first few steps you can take if this is what you are facing.
Step 1: Stay calm and try to find out the most important facts.
Most likely you are dealing with many difficult emotions. Try your best to stay calm and get the information you need.
The most important questions to answer are:
“What has my loved one been accused of?” and “Where is my loved one being held?”
If you cannot talk with your loved one directly, there are websites you can use to look up where they are and what they’ve been charged with.
Typically, the arrested person can make a phone call. If they call you, remind them not to say anything about what happened that they don’t want used against them in court. The phone call will likely be recorded and could be used against them. Get basic information from them and let them know you are doing what you can for them.
Step 2: Know your different options regarding getting your loved one out of jail.
It is natural to want to get your family member out of jail as soon as possible. Understanding some things about bail and other options can help you make the best decision for your unique situation.
Sometimes people are released from jail cost free in what is called a Release of Recognizance (ROR). Your loved one can petition for ROR, and that petition will either be accepted or denied by a judge. If there is little evidence that your loved one is dangerous or a flight risk, ROR is more likely to be approved.
If ROR is not possible for your loved one, it will cost some money to help them get out of jail.
Article 1, section 8 of the Utah Constitution says that “all persons charged with a crime shall be bailable.” (There are a few exceptions to this rule which you can read about here.) This means that, most likely, it will be possible to get your family member out of jail while they await trial.
However, bail can range in price based on the crime and the criminal history. If the bail is too high for you to pay, there are some other options to consider.
You can hire a bondsman for a percentage of the price of the bail. The bondsman will do the work of getting your family member out of jail.
In some cases, your loved one may be approved for a bail reduction hearing where the defendant can show financial hardship and potentially get the bail reduced.
Step 3: Talk to a criminal defense lawyer.
Once you have done some research, you probably have specific questions regarding your loved one’s unique situation. This is a good time to reach out to a criminal defense lawyer and get some professional advice on how to proceed.
Step 4: Self-care
You have been through a very stressful and scary experience and you’ve held it together in order to do what needs to be done. Most likely after you have done the previous steps, you will enter a waiting period. Take time to care for yourself. Look into getting professional help if you feel that you are unable to cope with the difficult emotions you are feeling. Talking to trusted friends, or writing or expressing your feelings through creativity can be healthy and stress-reducing. Remember that you are not responsible for the outcome of the situation. Be gentle with yourself and keep moving toward brighter days ahead.