What Happens After An Arrest
After an arrest, you can expect several things over the next 24 to 48 hours.
The usual events following an arrest include booking, questioning by the police, first appearance and bonding out (or a bond hearing). These usually happen in the order listed, but not necessarily so. Usually after booking you will be able to make a phone call home, or to a bondsman. From arrest to bonding out usually takes 24 to 48 hours, or longer on the weekend.
If you are researching attorneys for a loved one, now would be a good time to involve a criminal defense lawyer in the process.
Once arrested, you are booked at the local jail. In Tampa, you are usually processed at Orient Road Jail. In Pinellas, you will be booked into the Pinellas County Jail. Here is where you are fingerprinted, photographed, and asked basic questions about your full name, address, date of birth, and occupation. Remember that you must provide accurate personal information but you are not obligated to provide your employer's name. You don't want the name of your place of business displayed on your arrest record.
Your booking photo (mug shot) WILL be made public on the Sheriff's Office website. Once your case is concluded we can petition the court to have your record sealed and the photo removed if you otherwise meet the eligibility requirements. IMPORTANT NOTE: Even if nothing came of the arrest, i.e., the State Attorney drops the charges, your arrest and booking photo will remain visible as a public record unless sealed or expunged. Our office can do this for you. See our Sealing and Expungement page here.
Questioning by the Police
The hardest thing in the world to do after you are questioned by a law enforecment officer or arrested is to KEEP QUIET. A simply rule to live by is DO NOT TALK TO THE POLICE if you are the accused. It will not help you and can definitely hurt you.
Let's face it: most people who get arrested are not bad people, they just made a bad decision without really thinking it through. Whether you had too much to drink, or lost your cool and got into a fight, or were short on cash... Now you find yourself being questioned by the police.
Most people WANT to talk to the police, and think that if they cooperate with the officers and answer questions, they can 'explain away' their situation and just go home with a warning. Unfortunately, this is hardly ever the case.
If you have been arrested, the most important thing you can do to help your case is to keep quiet until you have spoken to an attorney. We recommend the following:
- "Yes, I will be happy to speak with you AFTER I have spoken to my attorney. NO, I will NOT answer any questions before then."
At this point, the police may try to pressure you into talking by saying:
- "If you haven't done anything wrong, why not talk to us?" (A challenge.)
- "You're not the one we're after." (You might be, or could say something that incriminates you.)
- "I'm sure you can easily explain this..." (Just because you have an explanation doesn't mean they won't use it against you.)
- "If you talk to us, we can make a deal for you." (They can't. Only the State Attorney can do that.)
- "If you don't talk to us, we're going to arrest you." (If they say this, they are likely going to arrest you anyway, at the conclusion of your questioning.)
Remember, as stated in the sidebar, the police are NOT always TRUTHFUL when they question you. They are trained to look for any signs of guilt, and may misinterpret your nervousness as you "trying to hide" something. Also, you may inadvertently make a statement that may incriminate you on another matter.
After being arrested, first appearance or preliminary presentation before a judge is simply the first stage of the criminal proceeding for those defendants remaining in custody. This will occur within 24 hours of your arrest. State courts in Florida conduct first appearance hearings 365 days per year. The charges against you are read, and you will be questioned about your ability to hire a lawyer. If you are indigent and your offense is one that qualifies for court appointed counsel, (i.e. all felonies) the judge will appoint a lawyer to represent you. There may be a brief discussion about your bond amount and whether an ROR or release on your own recognizance is appropriate in your case. The victim of a crime is typically notified and can advise the court of his/her wishes with regard to your release. Any release will require no contact with the victim or location of arrest if the judge lessens or removes a bond obligation.
Bond (or Bail)
If you are being held in jail, you may be released prior to your trial if you "bond out." Bond is money you pay to the court in order to ensure that you will appear in court for your future court dates. If you do appear as required, the bond will be refunded to you at the conclusion of your case if you paid it in full, in cash. If you do not show up, the court keeps the money and will issue an arrest warrant for FTA, Failure to Appear.
If you do not have enough money to post bond, you can use the services of a bondsman. They can put up money on your behalf, but will charge a premium to do so (usually 10 - 15%) and sometimes secured with collateral. The premium is not refunded by the bondsman even if the charges are dropped. That is the price you pay to get out of jail. Bond conditions can include no contact with the victim, no excessive use of alcohol, no use of illegal drugs and no firearms possession. In certain and limited situations, some offenses are not bondable. In other circumstances, the State will seek pre-trial detention of the defendant based on the nature of the charge and the defendant's prior criminal record. In short, not every defendant will get out of custody. There are usually no bonds given in Violation of Probation cases.