If you hear that an arrest warrant has been issued, no matter what you may think of the allegations, contact a lawyer immediately. How you handle the initial stages of your case is critical. Moreover, arresting officers are likely to ask you questions, and you should consider talking to a lawyer before answering any questions.
If you are reading this when a friend or loved one has just been arrested, you most likely have many questions, some of which cannot be answered easily. You should contact a lawyer immediately to find out what to do. In the meantime, below is a general description of the process.
When a criminal charge is filed, the court also issues an arrest warrant. The arrest could lead to the person’s continued detention pending trial, so often the lawyer’s first challenge is to get the client released on bond. A bond, which is an agreement for release on conditions, is designed to serve two general purposes – ensure the person’s continued appearance in court and the safety of the community by placing conditions on the defendant. Whether getting released on bond is possible depends on a lot of things, but here are some guiding principles.
Sometimes the warrant has on it an interim bond amount that already has been set by the court. In that case, someone must go to where the person is in custody and post the amount specified in the warrant. Jails have different requirements regarding the method of payment, so you should call to find out how you can pay the bond amount. In other cases, no bond has been previously set, so the person must first be arraigned by the court, which might not occur until at least the following day. While waiting in jail, someone from the court may interview the defendant to gather information to assist the judge in making a determination on bond. The defendant should cooperate with this process, being mindful not to discuss the case or the allegations.
Bonds in state court can take mainly three forms: (1) personal recognizance, which does not require the person to post any money, (2) cash/surety, which requires the posting of a specified amount of cash or hiring a bondsman to post the amount for a non-refundable fee, which is usually 10%, and (3) court or 10% bonds, which require the posting of 10% of the face amount of the bond with the court, which will be refunded at the end of the case.
Typical conditions of bond require the person to report regularly to court services, not commit any violations of law, not leave the state without the court’s permission, and not associate with or contact certain persons.
If the person is arrested on a federal warrant, the government is likely to ask the court to hold the person without bond pending trial. The person will first be taken to court and advised of the charge, and the court will schedule a hearing, which may take a few days. If the person is not yet represented by counsel, the court may assign counsel. Even if the government does not seek detention, it may take a day or two to get the person released, because the court has to determine the appropriate conditions for release following a hearing. During this process, someone from the court’s pretrial services office will interview the defendant. Everyone should cooperate with this process, being mindful not to discuss the case or its allegations.
If the court does not detain the person, it may order release under a variety of conditions. Typical conditions limit the person’s travel, association or contact with certain persons, and, if applicable, substance abuse counseling or treatment. In the federal court in west Michigan, most defendants are released without having to post money.