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Number one, do not freak out. 


Number two, find out if the magistrate set a bond.  Your loved one in jail should know what bond has been set.  Let's call your loved one in jail "D," as in Defendant, you need to get used to this term.  He or she is now a Defendant because she or he must now defend him or her self against the allegation.

Number three, call a bondsman.  Do an internet search.  Call several.  The standard rate that a bondman charges is 10% of the amount of the bond.  However, the price is often negotiable.  Some charge 8%.  Some charge even less.  Negotiate.  Paying a bondsman is just the beginning of what could be a very expensive process.


You should expect the bondsman to be able to find out where D is in the jail, the amount of bond that has been set, and the arraignment date.  Once you have gotten D out of jail or have learned that D has no bond and is being held in jail until you find a lawyer to argue a bond motion, go to number four.


Number four, find a criminal defense attorney.  Not a divorce attorney.  Not a personal injury attorney.  Not someone who handled a civil matter for you or a friend.  Not Not Not Not a lawyer friend of the family.  Don't do that to your lawyer friend of the family and don't do that to D.  You want someone who practices criminal defense law.  Preferably, you want someone who spends most of their time practicing in the county or city where D is charged with the crime.


Do not hire the first lawyer you talk to.  Do not hire a lawyer based only on what you have heard about her or him.  Do not hire a lawyer based only on her or his website.  Do not hire the cheapest lawyer. 


Interview several lawyers before hiring one.  If you do not have time to visit lawyers in their office, ask for a phone consultation.  You should not have to pay for an initial phone or an in-person consultation.  Be wary of lawyers who won't talk to you unless you pay them.  Be wary of lawyers who either refuse to talk on the phone or insist on an in-person consultation.  You should be able to get the kind of consultation you want whether it is by phone or inperson or both.


Do not be intimidated by lawyers.  We are tradesmen.  Law school is a trade school.  We carry a brief case instead of a work belt.


Pick the lawyer who is most willing to answer all your questions and who is not impatient and who does not use unnecessarily big words or Latin words.  Do not hire a lawyer who rubs you the wrong way or makes you feel rushed or insecure in any way.  You or D or both of you, if D wants you to be present, are going to  be spending a lot of time with this lawyer, so it needs to be someone who makes you feel safe.


Don't pick the most expensive lawyer.  There are plenty of lawyers who will do an excellent job without charging you an arm and a leg.


Be prepared to pay all or most of the lawyer's fee up front.  Civil lawyers typically bill by the hour or fraction of the hour.  Criminal defense lawyers tend to bill according to what crime D is charged with. 


Number five, be prepared to go to the bond hearing if one is required.  Be prepared to be at all court hearings if possible.  People who are accused of crimes need lots of support from their loved ones and going to court with D is a great show of support.

Categories: Criminal Defense
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