Arrest and Booking

Arrest and Booking

Getting arrested can be the worst experience for an accused as well as his or her family. However, an arrest is not the “end-all” of everything. If you consider yourself likely to face an arrest sometime soon, it is important to have a proper understanding of the issues associated with arrest and booking.

Reasons for Getting Arrested

You may be arrested due to any of these reasons:

  • If cops have seen you commit a crime
  • If cops have been informed about a possible crime that you have committed
  • If cops have an arrest warrant for you

Process of Getting Arrested

Once you are arrested, you may or may not be handcuffed. Physical restraints may be used if you try to resist arrest with force. You may simply be informed about your arrest and led to the back of the police car. Thereafter, you will be driven to a police station or a “central” location where charges will be booked against you.

During arrest, law enforcement officials will read out the “Miranda Rights” to you. If you watch Hollywood cop movies you may have a fair idea about it already. This is basically some constitutional rights that police officials read out to suspects while interrogating them after an arrest. As per rule, police officers should make suspects aware that they have the right to get a lawyer to represent them and that anything they say may be used as evidence against them in court. Suspects have the constitutional right to stay silent until a lawyer advises them to do otherwise.

What to Do If You Are Arrested?

Once a person is arrested, he has a natural impulse to either run away or fight his way to freedom. However, even if you can escape an arrest in this way it will be a short-lived one. It is better to co-operate with authorities as it can improve your chances of getting out of jail very soon. Attempts to elude cops or fighting with them can weaken your case and get you slapped with charges for resisting arrest. When arrested, you should remain calm and composed. Never show anger or emotion as it can make you look guilty. Many people, while facing an arrest, admit guilt out of fear. Never do that, as you can prove your innocence later in court. It is best not to utter anything during arrest as whatever you say can be used in court against you. Cooperate with the police silently and do not try to declare your innocence. You can do that later, in a more organized way.

Police Helmet

Police Helmet

What is booking?

It is a legal procedure in which a police officer records information about you and the charges being leveled at you. He may also perform other administrative tasks that involve:

  • Recording your personal information
  • Recording the circumstances of and facts about your alleged crime
  • Looking up for any criminal activities that you may have been involved in or committed before
  • Searching for any previous warrants issued on your name
  • Collecting your photographs, “mug shots”, and fingerprints
  • Searching you and taking away any items like purse, wallet, keys or jewelry that are to be returned during release

Once these tasks have been performed, you will be held up in a local jail, police station or detention facility as a suspect. You will be detained until you are released on bail.

People arrested for “minor”  offenses may be released without detention after they hand over a written promise to the law enforcement agent to appear in court at an appointed date. People suspected of committing more serious crimes are kept in detention until they are bailed out. Suspects can obtain release before trial through “own recognizance” or bail. However, this is not allowed if arrested persons are charged with very serious crimes.

Arrest and Booking

Many people confuse “arrest”  with “booking”. The term “arrest” refers to the act of being taken into custody by a police officer or a law enforcement agent. “Booking”, on the other hand, indicates the process or recording information about the arrested person and his offense in an “arrest log”.

What to Do During Booking?

During booking and processing of charges, you should fully cooperate with the authorities. Politely answer to all the questions that you are asked. Do not volunteer to provide them with any additional information. You can save them up for later. Furnishing cops with additional facts may complicate your case due to a lack of understanding on either part. After booking, authorities may or may not interview you. You have the right to remain silent and you should use it properly. Request a lawyer immediately. Once a lawyer comes into the scene, authorities are not permitted to speak to you anymore about your case. Speaking is only allowed for them in the presence of an attorney. It is always recommended that you get consultation from a criminal defense attorney before making any statement associated with the charges filed against you. Doing otherwise can do you more harm than good.

How Do You Get Arrested For Dui?

If you have been arrested for DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs) or DWI (driving while intoxicated), the process can be longer. Officers generally arrest and charge a person with DUI/DWI if they find him or her driving in an erratic manner. However, such arrests may also take place for expired registration tags, over-speeding or broken head or tail lights. In some cases, arrests are made after accidents, at check points or at sobriety roadblocks.

If an officer pulls you over for drunken driving, you may be put through a breathalyzer test or any type of “field sobriety test”. If the tests show presence of 0.08% alcohol level in the bloodstream or over, the officer will have a sufficient cause to arrest you. Even if the level is under 0.08%, you may be arrested under the suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. In such cases, the driving ability is supposed to be impaired due to alcohol influence. In the absence of breathalyzers, officers may take you to the nearest police station for booking. You may be put through a blood or urine test. Various “field sobriety tests”, such as standing on one foot or walking a straight line, may be conducted on you. You may find the tests humiliating. However, you should remember that the tests had only been devised to help officers find out whether drivers are fit to run cars. It should be in your best interests to cooperate with the law enforcement officers. Non-cooperation can force them to level charges at you.

How to Behave in Jail?

man-in-jail-cellNo one wants to get arrested, whether innocent or guilty. Although it is one of the most humiliating experiences in life, you must remember not to lose your calm. Maintain your composure and behave well with authorities. Think about the details of your case and arrange them in a chronological fashion. Keep all your thoughts and worries to yourself. If you are detained with a cell mate, do not discuss your case with him or her. If he or she is too pushy, just answer in one or two words to satisfy curiosity. Keep all your case details to yourself, however sympathetic your cell mate seems to be. Often, testimonies from other inmates play an important role in convicting a person. Behave politely with other inmates but do not mix with any of them. Remember that all of your activities from the time of your arrest will be monitored and can be used against you during trial. It is essential to behave well and project a fair image at all times. If you know a lawyer, call him/her up and try to secure bail. Knowing how to behave after arrest can make a big difference in the way your case can turn out eventually. Even if you have to serve a jail sentence, good behavior can reduce your prison term.

Release Options for an Arrested Person

Getting arrested does not mean the end of the road for you. Many people get arrested every year and get out of jail to lead normal lives. The key is to act fast and get released as fast as possible. Once you are arrested, you may consider any of these release options:

Release on Own Recognizance

Also known as R.O.R or P.R (Personal Recognizance), this is a release that can be obtained before trial without making any financial deposit. R.O.R is usually allowed when the accused is charged of committing an offense that is trivial in nature. It is also allowed when the arrested person has strong ties with the community in the form of property ownership, full-time employment or a family residing in the region. Such individuals are believed to be at a low-flight risk and eager to clear their name by standing for trial.

In R.O.R, defendants are released after they submit in writing a pledge to appear for all upcoming legal proceedings in court. Although bails are not posted, such individuals may have certain restrictions imposed on them by state criminal courts. Such impositions prohibit defendants from leaving the area during proceedings. Accused persons may also have to keep in touch with the court at the time the case is on-going.

While releasing a person on recognizance, a criminal court judge may keep in mind the following considerations.

  • The severity of the crime
  • The criminal record of the defendant
  • The strength of professional, personal and communal ties of the accused
  • The danger that the defendant’s release may pose to others

The aforementioned considerations are also used while deciding whether or not a person accused of a crime should get bail.

If a defendant released on R.O.R does not appear on the appointed date for trial in court, he or she may be subjected to immediate arrest. In such cases, any possibilities of getting a bail may be almost eliminated.

Cash Bond

A defendant can often act as his or her own guarantor and pay the entire bail amount out of own pockets. The payment is made in cash. The option is allowed if the defendant is arrested for traffic violations or other minor offenses. If the accused does not stand for trial, the cash bond is confiscated.

In most states, a licensed bondsman is needed to provide personal assurance for larger bonds.

Property Bond

In some cases, a defendant may be discharged from detention only after a property bond has been posted in the court in his/her name. The court enters a right (lien) over the property to make sure that the bail amount is recovered. This is a rare type of bail bond and is only permitted to be used in a few jurisdictions.

Surety Bond

It is also known as “Common Bail Bond”. It is issued when a professional bondsman or bail agency insures the appearance of a defendant in court. If the defendant fails to appear on the date of trial, the bondsman or bail agency can be fully held responsible. In exchange for the assurance, the agency charges a fee or “premium”. The fee is typically 4-15% of the total bond amount set by the court. In addition to this, the bondsman often needs some collateral to be posted. This can be a car, jewelry or home. The collateral is usually deposited by a guarantor, who can be a friend or family member or friend who is seeking the release of the accused). Because this person usually knows the defendant well, he or she is willing to take partial responsibility for guaranteeing that the defendant will appear in court.

Why are People Released on Bail?

Bail has various advantages for an arrested person as well as the state. Bail allows a defendant to continue with his or her normal life until the time comes for court proceedings. Defendants can thus save their jobs and attend to other essential commitments while awaiting trial. It also safeguards their mental and physical health. Every year, many inmates lose their life in prison violence in various U.S jails. Staying in prison among other inmates can also badly affect the psychology of a person to leave deep mental scars. All these can be avoided with bail.

By allowing bail to an arrested person, the state can avoid its duty of looking after him/her during stay in prison. An accidental death of the defendant in jail can make the state accountable to the family members. There are other problems in keeping a person in detention for a long time, especially if he is found to be innocent. Granting a bail can let the state avoid such responsibilities.

The concept of bail typically rests on the assumption that an arrested person will be motivated to appear for trial to get back the deposit he/she has made in court. In many cases, innocent defendants are found to be clueless enough about legal issues to doubt the power of judiciary. They doubt whether they will be able to get a fair trial and get back their freedom. The horrors of going to prison get the better of them prompting them to escape. In such cases, the thought of reclaiming the bail amount and collateral can make them refrain from doing so. The higher the bail amount involved, the more the motivation is supposed to be. This makes even people who are guilty of a crime (and have a “high-flight risk”) to stand for trial.

How to Seek Bail?

jail-bail-guyOnce police officers complete the booking procedure, they are likely to inform the defendant about the exact bail amount that has been set by the court. It indicates that the arrested person may get release on bail if they choose. Defendants can settle the bail in two methods.

Direct payment

Accused persons may post the full bail amount in court through cashier’s check or cash. Once the case is over, the defendant can get the entire amount back, minus administrative fees. The bail amount posted usually takes much time to recover as cases can drag for months or even years in some situations. If the accused person fails to stand on trial or skips obligations dictated by the court, the bail amount will be confiscated.

Payment through Bail Agency

This is the second and more commonly used bail option. It requires hiring the services of a professional bail agency or an expert bail bondsman. Hiring a bail agency only requires payment of around 10% of the entire bail amount as “fee” or “premium”. The “premium” is paid for the services provided by the agency/bondsman. It is non-refundable in nature.

Which Bail Option Should You Seek?

It is quite difficult to say which the better option to seek bail is. If you have the money to pay up-front, you can go for direct payment. It will only involve your own responsibility. There is no fear of getting hauled back to jail if any of your bond signers back off, resulting in the collapse of the bond. Also, you will not have to fear about getting your freedom jeopardized due to inferior services of a bail agency or bondsman.

However, if you do not have enough money it is best to seek the services of a bail agency or bondsman. A bail agency can settle your release in a fraction of the cost that you would have had to incur otherwise. A good professional agency or bondsman can also ensure your release very fast without involving you in any way. Direct payment requires you to pay more and be directly involved with the process of depositing bail.

Facing Court after Arrest

The process of arrest does not end with getting released on bail. Once you are granted bail, it is essential for you to abide by the court process after arrest. Seek the services of a good attorney to help you solve your case. Losing cool after arrest is not likely to solve your problems in any way. Rather, it will only serve to increase your complications. Behave well with authorities, co-operate with them fully, seek bail and attend court-proceedings with a professional attorney by your side. Facing trials for a crime, particularly one that you did not commit, can be a frightful experience. However, the right approach can help you tackle your court proceedings in a better way. Hire a defense lawyer with good professional experience. This is more important if you have been charged with a serious crime. Do not go for inexpensive options as improper legal advise can put your freedom at risk.

Write down everything that you consider important to your case. This will help you remember all fine details and help your lawyer fight your case better. Collect all documents that can support your case and submit them to your attorney. You should also educate yourself about the charges being leveled at you. Make a list of all possible witnesses who can support your case. When questioned, try to remain as calm as possible. Do not answer any question in the absence of your lawyer.

With the right approach, you can make sure that you can get out of your legal mess sidestepping all potential problems that lack of understanding can arouse.

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