What is an arrest in Iowa and what should you do when you’ve been arrested?
You probably think you know what an “arrest” is, but determining exactly when someone was arrested is often argued about in criminal proceedings. There isn’t a bright-line test to determine whether someone has been arrested. There’s no one thing you can look at that tells you, you know, yep, that guy’s arrested!
Depending on when you’re arrested and what you’re told, searches the police perform, and admissions you end up being inadmissible. If evidence is inadmissible, it can’t be used against you at trial. When important evidence gets “suppressed” (that means when the court decides it can’t be used), your chances of getting your case dismissed improve.
Arguing about when you or someone you love was arrested is something for later, though. If you’ve just gotten a call from your friend, husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, or child who’s in custody, you need to know what to do now.
Here are steps to follow:
1. Tell them not to discuss their charges on the phone. Calls from the jail are recorded. Anything they tell you could later be used against them. It’s normal to want to know what happened, but it’s important for them that they not talk about it.
2. Tell your friend or loved one that you’ll call an attorney for them if that’s what they ask you to do. Ask if there’s anyone in particular that they’d like you to call.
3. Tell them not to talk about their charges with anyone other than an attorney — not with you, not with the other people at the jail, and definitely not with the police.
4. Let them know that they can call you back in a while. Be prepared, when they call you back, to tell them what you’ve found out about an attorney and about bail. You may not be able to call your friend or loved one at the jail and will have to wait on their call. After their initial free phone call to you, their calls may be collect. Accepting their next call may require you to pay several dollars with a credit or debit card.
5. Call an attorney. If they asked to talk to a specific person or firm, call that person or firm and let them know what’s going on.
6. Stay calm. Here is some self-help legal advice.
7. Call the arresting agency or the place where your friend or loved one is being held and ask what the conditions of their release will be.
8. Ask how much the bond is and what their policies for payment are if they’re being charged with something that requires bail/bond to be paid. Some charges involve “cash only” bonds. For other charges, you can contract with a bail bondsman if you can’t afford the full amount of bail. For still other charges, your friend will need to see a judge before they’re eligible for bail, or they may not be eligible for bail at all.
9. Decide whether you’re going to pay bail for your loved one. Depending on the jail’s rules, this could involve paying in person in cash or with a cashier’s check or through a bail bondsman. If you need to pay bail in person, this is the part where you get to put on your sweatpants and traipse out to the jail to pay and then to wait…and wait…and wait the hour or three it might take the jail to return your arrested loved one to you.