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Guide to After Being Bailed Out
What Happens After Posting Bail
If you have been arrested and released on bail, you are probably still shaking in your boots and wondering what is going to happen next. The releasing officer gave you a paper with any stipulations t your bail and asked you to sing that you understand them, but you really were not paying attention. You have been driven from the detention center to the courthouse and are not sure what to do. This article will give you a quick overview of the next few weeks of your life from a legal standpoint.
Go Home and Rest
Unless you were able to be released in a few short hours of your arrest, you are probably tired both physically and emotionally. As long as you go straight home, to the place the court has listed as your place of residence, you are not going to be hurting anything.
Contact an Attorney
If you have been given a court appointed attorney, you know who it is by now. If you have a private attorney you need to get in touch with him if you haven’t yet. If you do not have an attorney but wish to, now is the time to find one and make an appointment to meet him. This is the person who will have all the information regarding your case and will work to make sure you do not have to go back behind bars. Set an appointment with your lawyer and keep it. Take all the paperwork from the detention center with you and make sure you are completely clear on what you can and cannot do while waiting for your case to be heard. If you have to check in with the court, do so. You need to do exactly as the papers say or you will lose your freedom. You will need to be in touch with your lawyer daily to find out how the case is progressing. Make sure you understand any and all the evidence they have against you. Give all the information you have regarding your innocence to your lawyer and let your case be made. If you are guilty, you need to discuss what your options are with him. If there is a good amount of evidence against you, consider pleading guilty if they will make the charges less serious.
Talk with friends and loved ones and prepare them for the worst case scenario. Prepare yourself too. Start to plan for your family in your absence. Show up for your court appearances and trial. Anyone who helped you with your bail will appreciate getting it back after you appear.
The First Meeting with Your Attorney
It does not matter whether you hired a private lawyer or have a court appointed public defender as your attorney; you are going to need legal advice and representation. After taking one evening to recover from the trauma of spending a night or two in lock-up, get a good night’s sleep and contact your attorney in the morning. Make arrangements to meet with him or her that very day.
Go Over Your Bail Stipulations
The first thing you want to talk about with your lawyer is the conditions of your bail. No matter what you have been charged with, if you do not comply with any court ordered stipulations, you will have a new warrant issued and be taken back to jail with no hope for release. If you have to report to the court regularly, make sure you understand how often and who you need to report to. Also make sure you know whether you have to actually physically appear or if you can do so over the telephone. If you can call in, ask if you can use a mobile phone or if it must be a landline. Have a landline installed if you do not currently have one. Make arrangements to attend any addiction rehab, counseling or meetings or any anger management classes you are required to attend. Be sure to have all the proper documentation to take and have signed.
Go Over the Charges Against You
It is important that you understand exactly what you are being charged with and what the consequences will be if you are found guilty. Discuss whether you are guilty or not, remember, it does not matter and they cannot tell the court if you are guilty, they will still represent you. Discuss the possibility of a plea bargain if you are guilty or feel they have sufficient evidence to convict you. If you have pertinent information regarding the case, let your lawyer know, it could be your ticket to stay out of jail.
Help Maintain Your Innocence
If you are innocent, help your lawyer to maintain it. It is the court’s duty to prove your guilt; you have nothing to prove at this point. It is, however, in your best interest to have all your information ready. The more your attorney knows about you, the better he can ward of any guilt. Give him a timeline of where you were, what you were doing and who you were with at the time of the crime.
Helping Prepare Your Case
It does not matter what type of or who your attorney is if you are not willing to be honest and help him maintain your innocence. If you are innocent, you need to make sure you can show you did not commit the crime. It may be that you are innocent until proven guilty, but if they have evidence showing you are guilty, then you had better be able to shoot it all down as it is brought up.
If you were out with friends or even somewhere someone else saw you at the time of the crime, you need to get in touch with these people and explain the situation. It might be your lawyer’s job to do so, but it will be a lot less of a shock and less intimidating for them if you approach them first. You need to talk to them in a non-threatening way; you do not want the prosecution to be able to say they are only helping you because they are afraid of what will happen if they don’t.
Physical Proof of Where You Were
If you have a receipt or credit card statement that can show you were nowhere near the crime, dig them out and get them on file. The more things like this you have, the better the chances the DA will drop the charges before going to trial. Everything you have that proves your innocence takes away from their proof of your guilt. Get the situation where you have much more than they do and they have to let the charges drop.
Consider Giving Evidence for a Lesser Charge and Sentence
If you are not actually guilty of the crime, but can be placed at the scene and may be considered an accessory to the crime, it might be in your best interest to give evidence to save yourself. It can be hard to turn in a friend or acquaintance, but sometimes it must be done. Another way to look at this is the fact that they are willing to let you take the blame and go to prison for something they did. How much of a friend are they really? The DA’s office wants to get to the bottom of the crime. If you did not actually commit it, but know who did, they do not want you to take the blame. You may be given a lesser charge or even have theme dropped if you can prove someone else did the crime.
Going to Court
Being released on bail does not mean that you are done with the matter. It does not mean that you are free from having to serve time if found guilty either. All it means is that until such a time that the court can determine your innocence or guilt, you do not have to sit in jail. You do have to show up to any and all court appearances or you will be right back behind bars.
Dressing for Court
You are trying to show the jury that you did not do whatever it is you are accused of doing. Even if you know you are guilty, you should dress to have everyone see you as a decent, respectable, responsible member of the community. Do not show up dirty and unkempt or with body parts exposed. Dress for your age; you do not want to try to make them think you are young and innocent; it almost always fails and looks bad.
Show up Early
You want to be seen in the courthouse or the courtroom before you are called. This lets everyone see that you are prepared and are not afraid of what is to come. It shows confidence in your innocence.
Maintain Your Composure
While it may be hard to not get angry, upset or frustrated, it is important to remain calm. If someone was hurt in the crime, you need to express sympathy without showing contrition. You do not need to apologize for something you did not do, but it does not hurt to apologize for the situation. If you are put on the stand, be sure to answer any and all questions as simply as possible. Your lawyer will have a chance to have you explain in more detail if necessary. Getting angry or yelling or name-calling will only have the jury think you are guilty when you are not. If you are guilty, it will make you seem like you do not care or are not sorry for what you did. This will make the sentencing portion go harder on you. Remember that you are under oath. Even if you are innocent, telling a lie on the witness stand can get you charged with perjury. Getting angry or nasty can have contempt of court added to your charges. Your main objective is to remain free, do everything you can to make sure the court has no reason to take your freedom from you.
Helping Everyone Prepare for Your Incarceration
If you are guilty, and you know the truth about it, you need to help prepare your loved ones, friends and yourself for your upcoming incarceration. It will make everything go much smoother and the time you have before your trial much happier.
Make Financial Arrangements
If you are the main provider for you family or if you contribute a good portion of the living expenses, there is going to need to be something set up so they can continue on financially. You may be able to sell off a collection or some possession you own that will give them the additional money you would have contributed. Remember, you will not be there spending money or using resources, so the family will not need as much. If you have nothing to sell, maybe you can arrange for a close friend or family member to move in and help out with expenses. If there will be a nice sum returned for your bail once you appear, make sure your family gets the money.
Talk to Your Family
Unless your family is not speaking with you because of some awful thing you did, they are most likely upset that you will be gone. Your children may not understand it; they may be confused. It is best to try and explain thing to them in a way they can understand. Let them know you will not stop loving them just because you cannot be around them and that you will miss them and want to be with them, but it is just not possible for a while.
You will probably need to time to reconcile with the fact that you will be in jail or prison for the duration of your sentence. If you have someone you know will send you books or other things you are allowed, make sure you have it all set up with them. If possible, find out if you can attend school or classes online while incarcerated. Ask your attorney about other things you can do to keep yourself busy.
Say Your Goodbyes
If you are going to be in prison for a very long time, you may want to sit with your family and say good bye. They might not want to hear it and it might seem very cold, but it may make you feel better in the long run if you know they are going on with their lives and being happy. This step may not be something you can do for a few years down the road, but you may want to consider it now.
Complying with the Court
When you were released on bail, the releasing officer gave you some papers telling you what you could, what you could not and what you absolutely have to do in order to stay out of jail. You took these papers to your attorney and made sure you both know what has to be done. Now you need to make sure you follow the rules.
Notifying the Court and the Bond Company Where you Are
The court and the bond company has a place of residence listed for you, if you move, or have to stay somewhere else, you need to inform them of this as soon as you know where you will be staying. That does not mean you have to let them know every time you leave your house, unless the papers say that is a requirement, but if you are going to be sleeping elsewhere on a regular basis, they need to be aware of this. They will also need to be informed if you change jobs or change your normal working hours at your listed employment.
Checking in As Required
It might be a bit of a pain to have to check in with the court regularly, but if it is required, you must do so. Think of it this way, if you don’t you will not have to worry about it because you will be back inside real quick.
Plan Your Defense
Even when you are not meeting with your lawyer, you can be planning for your defense. If you were out with people far away from the crime at the time it occurred, you need to talk to them and make sure they are willing to testify as to where you were. If you have receipts or anything else to prove your whereabouts, hunt them up and get them to your lawyer.
Showing Up for Court Appearances
Whether there are any other stipulations or not, the one thing you absolutely must do after being released on bail is to show up in court when you are supposed to be there. Not showing will not only end up in a new warrant, but it will also mean you forfeit any bail that was paid on your behalf. If you had to use a bondsman or someone’s house to secure your bail, someone is going to be very upset with you. You do not want a bounty hunter chasing you around or to have someone who cared enough to risk their home for you living on the streets. Go to court.
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