What Should You Do After the Arrest and Incarceration of a Family Member?

One of the obstacles that face families, is that you may not know right away if a loved one has been placed under arrest in Dallas.  Once the accused has been remanded by law enforcement, they are taken to holding, pending a transfer to the County Jail, before they will be officially charged in a brief hearing with a Judge.

Families are surprised to learn that they do not have access to contact the incarcerated person, under virtually any circumstance.  You may call (and many families do) to request to speak to the individual, but you will not be permitted to.  As you can imagine, this is very upsetting to worried family members, but it is part of a regimented procedure that is designed to expedite people charged with a criminal offense as quickly as possible.

While in holding, law enforcement officers are required to provide access to a telephone for a short call to a family member, lawyer or bail bondsman. This call may be limited to only one. Depending on the number of people in holding and incarcerated, the length of that call can be capped at under two minutes.

It is understandable to be distraught or upset after receiving the phone call from your loved one.  Understand that they are under strict supervision and requirements to make the call brief.  Stick to the details that will help your loved one arrange bail and arraignment as quickly as possible.  Save the personal conversation about “what happened” for when your loved one has been released from police custody.

You will also not be permitted to see the individual before their arraignment before a Magistrate (Judge).  Many families who experience this situation for the first time think that they can visit their loved one in jail, but it is not allowed for a variety of reasons, including conversations or activities that may impede any criminal investigation that is ongoing relating to the charge.

What Happens During the Steps of Incarceration?

After an arrest, a law enforcement officer takes the accused to the police station, or another secure detention facility.  The local authorities do not file the charge, they simply provide their evidence and statement to the District Attorney, for documentation of the charges that are being made against the accused individual.

In local holding, people who are pending an official criminal charge are required to surrender their belongings to the Sheriff’s department.  This includes jewelry, piercings and can include eyeglasses, for the protection of the accused and other inmates in custody.  Any personal belongings are bagged and labeled for return, after the accused is released from County Jail.

The vehicle that the charged individual was driving at the time, will be impounded for criminal investigation.  Even if the owner of the vehicle was not charged, if the evidence pertaining to the case is within a vehicle, it will be impounded.

The release and availability of the vehicle will depend entirely on the nature of the charge and evidence being collected by the District Attorney as part of the case.  If stolen property, illegal substances, weapons or other evidence were contained in the vehicle, it may be released within a week.   In the case of a murder or manslaughter charge where the vehicle is part of principal evidence, the vehicle may be held until the trial (in rare cases).

You can find out where the vehicle has been impounded, and spouses or someone authorized by the accuse can remove the vehicle, once impound charges have been paid.  The fees are costly; family members are advised to take steps to acquire the vehicle if permitted to do so, as soon as possible.

Reading of the Charges or Bail Hearing (Arraignment) in Dallas Court

Texas law requires that a citizen charged with a criminal act may only be detained up to 48 hours before they are read the official charge in front of the Judge.  The amount of time that someone spends in holding for a non-violent crime can vary, depending on the circumstance.

If the individual is not a threat to their own personal safety, or the safety of the public, they can be released in as little as 24 hours from Dallas County Jail.  However, this average time period can be impacted by the volume of newly incarcerated individuals.  For instance, if there is a high volume of intake for new charges into County Jail, the processing time can be extended to the full 48 hours before a Judge may see and read the charges.

When individuals are read their charges, they appear before a Judge on closed circuit television.  The appointment with the Judge is not private; there may be 5-15 other incarcerated people in the room.  Each individual has their charges officially read, so that they understand the scope of the felony or misdemeanor crime that they are being held for.

The Magistrate will also inform the accused at that time, of their eligibility for bail.  Depending on the nature of the charge, the individual may or may not qualify for release.  The Judge will also inform the accused of the set monetary value (or cost) of bail that will be required for release.

If it has been successfully arranged, the bail bondsman will meet your loved one and they will be released to the bondsman’s custody.  They will be required to accompany the bondsman to their office for the second step of processing; signing the contract and terms of the bond.   If family members have arranged bond while the accused has been incarcerated, much of the paperwork from the bondsman will already be processed, and in about 1-2 hours they are free to leave.

Finding a Bail Bondsman and Posting Bail

If this is the first time you have ever had to arrange for the services of a bail bondsman, there are a few important things you will need to know.  To begin with, these business professionals are guarantors that provide something similar to an insurance police for the court.

Securing a bond means that the bondsman is responsible for you, the accused.  Their commitment to the court is that they will stay in regular contact with you and inform the court if you leave the State or Country.  Some individuals charged with a crime can be a flight-risk, and if they fail to comply with the requirements and terms of their bail bond, the accused can be returned to County Jail to wait for the trial and court date.

Because all court systems are burdened in Texas, it can take a year or longer for an individual to receive their trial.  Because spending that time in jail would lead to catastrophic consequences in terms of employment, childcare and additional costs for the Texas legal system, the bail bond procedure allows people to return home with legal safety measures in place.   The bail bondsman will require a telephone ‘check in’ for instance, on regular intervals, such as weekly or bi-weekly calls.

While a charge is pending, international travel is not advised for individuals with pending criminal charges in the State of Texas.  If the accused must travel (for instance, to visit an ailing family member), they can request permission to do so in writing from their bail bondsman.  If you do not receive that permission and you leave the State or Country, it may be determined that you ‘skipped bail’ and a warrant for your arrest may be issued.

It is important to note that many bail bond agencies will work with your family to agree to a cost that is reasonable for you.  If your bail was set for instance at $2,500 and the accused has no prior criminal history, the bond fee may be as little as 10% of that total amount, or $250.  The terms of bail depend greatly on the severity of the alleged criminal activity, as well as previous criminal charges.

 

A Post-Arrest Check List for Families

  • Find out the nature of the call and discuss bail bond as soon as you are permitted to talk to your family member.
  • Find a bail bondsman and pay the required fee as soon as possible. This will allow the bondsman to work on behalf of your family member to help expedite the legal bond and release.
  • If a vehicle has been impounded, talk to the arresting police department for information about where the vehicle is being held, and whether you can acquire it to save money on expensive impound fees.
  • Understand that you will not be able to visit your loved one until they are released after their arraignment.
  • Be compassionate to your loved one upon their release. County Jail is a traumatizing experience for those who have been charged for the first time.  They may be in emotional shock when you see them.  Take them home where they feel safe and support them.

 

The next step after release is to find a qualified and reputable criminal attorney in Dallas, who will represent you and defend your case.  This should be done immediately, so that your lawyer can begin to gather information to build your defense, and also monitor and assist you with updates regarding your pending court date.

Choose experience, and an attorney who will work to create a solid defense and plea strategy to help reduce the criminal penalties received for a misdemeanor or felony charge.  Contact Britt Redden at Redden Law, PLLC, to retain an Attorney who will fight for your rights and provide the legal support and advice you need.

 

When the Red and Blue lights are lit, call Britt!

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