What Happens In The First 24 Hours After An Arrest?
Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.
After the first twenty-four hours after an arrest depends upon whether someone was taken to jail or whether he or she were given a criminal summons with a notice to appear. In cases where people are given a criminal summons and a notice to appear in a specific courthouse on a specific date, and time, there is often a false belief by that person that they have not been arrested. In fact, they have been arrested, and that has an important legal implication regarding statements that have been made. The fact that they were arrested yet not taken to jail is critical, because if a statement was taken in violation of their Fifth and Sixth Amendment right to counsel, or if evidence was seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment, the facts of the case may hinge upon whether a particular event occurred before or after that individual was free to leave.
In those cases, within the first twenty-four hours, a person should contact a criminal defense attorney, and begin the process of questioning criminal defense lawyers about their qualifications, and experiences. Unfortunately, far too many people rely upon fake reviews on social media instead of the Florida Bar sanctioned official lawyer review rating system, which is a board certification. However, that is a discussion for another day. Let us turn our attention to someone who has been arrested and has been taken to jail. One possibility is they may get what we call a booking officer bond, but most people will not. Instead, they will be held overnight, and the next day they will be taken with other people to a specific location within the jail and at that location, there will be a television monitor. At some point, that television monitor shows a judge’s face.
In addition to the judge on the monitor, there are actually a large number of people in what is called a video courtroom, but they are not on camera. These people will always include a member of the office of the state attorney who is on duty rotation. This duty rotation attorney is going to be the actual prosecutor for that case. Additionally, there will be a public defender there, whether or not the inmates in question are going to be using the public defender’s office. There will also be one or more members from pretrial release services, and there will be court security and maybe privately retained defense lawyers as well, and a deputy clerk or two. This is what normally happens behind the scenes in video court so to speak because the person arrested can only see the judge.
During this brief appearance, which will go quickly, and it will leave large numbers of people wondering what the heck just happened, is the judge going to rattle off several things quickly and most people, when they have the first appearance, a great deal of information is given quickly. It is like drinking from a fire hose. Many times people do not remember critical details because they are not familiar with what is going on, because it happens so fast. However, a judge is going to preliminarily make a determination about probable cause. So, if someone who has been through this process might remember the judge said, “I am going to find the probable cause”, and the judge may find probable cause based upon a review of the arrest report’s probable cause statement, or the judge may look at it and say, “There is a warrant”.
If there is a warrant, an arrest warrant means that some other judge or the judge in question, although rarely that is the case, has already decided that there is probable cause, so the duty judge handling the first appearance does not even need to make that decision. The next decision is going to be is the person entitled to a bond. In addition, if the person is entitled to a bond, at what amount, and under what conditions. Quite often, what happens is people remember the bond amount, but they do not remember the miscellaneous conditions. I have had domestic violence cases where people did not realize they were under a no contact order, or they would realize that they were under a no contact order regarding the complaining witness. The state will always call it a victim, but they may also have a specific condition of no contact with witnesses involved.
Thus, it is not uncommon to find somebody charged with domestic violence, they will avoid the complaining witness, yet they may continue residing, spending time with, or be in communication with one of the witnesses without being aware that they are in violation of bond conditions. Therefore, it is critically important that people understand these bond conditions, and their lawyer will need to take care of that. Now, if a bond is set in an amount that is too high then ofcourse a subsequent motion to set or reduce bond can be obtained. However, within the first twenty-four hours of arrest, what a person should do is immediately hire counsel. That is the number one thing they should do because the earlier a criminal defense lawyer gets into a case the more impact they can have and problems generally do not get better with the passage of time. Only by being proactive after someone has been arrested can the problem start to be solved.
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