Steps To Take After Being Arrested in Austin

Man in handcuffs

It doesn’t need to be said, but finding yourself in police custody is never fun. An arrest is not only scary, but embarrassing. On top of that, you may feel completely lost as to what to do now that you are subject to the ministrations of law enforcement.

Thankfully, all is not lost. There are plenty of steps you can take upfront to help make your journey through the justice system a little easier.

1. Don’t Panic!

Arrests are stressful, to be sure, but remind yourself that it’s going to be fine. Keep in mind that the criminal justice process from arrest to trial is slow. In some cases, time can be an advantage to defendants. No matter what, the most important thing you can do is stay calm throughout the process. Your attorney will know how to guide you through.

2. Know Your Rights

Being detained by law enforcement doesn’t mean that you’ve lost your ability to assess your situation or make your own decisions. The right to remain silent. The right to an attorney. The right to terminate an interview. These are all rights that apply to your case regardless of your charge. You should never be afraid to assert any of your rights.

3. Don’t Talk To A Police Officer Without Your Attorney

Remember, friendly officers who “just want to hear your side of the story” likely have reasons for asking you these questions. While you might be able to explain your way out of a situation, you definitely will hurt yourself by saying something without first consulting with an attorney. Remember that anything you say can be used against you, but your silence cannot. Don’t set a trap for yourself with your own words.

4. Don’t Talk About Your Situation Inside the Jail

The walls of the jail have ears. Whether it’s another person waiting to be booked, the call monitoring software on the phones, or a jailhouse informant, your conversations on the inside are not private and conversations with spouses, family, or friends are not protected. Most people think that a prosecutor is too concerned with other cases to care what was said on a jail call with a loved one, however, they’ll go digging for potentially incriminating statements in those conversations when the time comes. Fortunately, you have a choice in what they hear. Be smart and cautious with your words so that you don’t become the best witness in your own case.

5. Look Up What You Can Online

The felony and misdemeanor courts in Travis and Williamson Counties both have online resources to help you know more about your loved one’s situation. You can check real-time incarceration status, including the bond amount or if the arrested person has already seen the magistrate judge. In addition to public information access provided by the counties, an attorney should be able to access some of the initial case documents (like the affidavit of probable cause) through a separate portal controlled by the district and county clerks in Travis and Williamson Counties.

6. Find the Right Attorney and Retain Them Quickly

Austin has a lot of great defense attorneys who can help if you’re arrested and charged with a crime. Hiring a skilled attorney is like making an investment – both in the relationship with your chosen attorney and in the quality of representation you are going to receive. Do your homework when looking for the right attorney. That means making calls and asking important questions, such as: What is their trial experience? Does the attorney have a relationship with the office prosecuting your case? What can you expect in terms of regular communication from the office? Does the attorney employ a mitigation specialist? All these questions and details matter and are a great indicator of the type of experience you’re signing up for.

Hiring an attorney early on in your case can help push back against the momentum of the criminal justice machine. Many people in similar situations are overwhelmed because it feels like everything is against them. On top of that, you’re constantly receiving an enormous amount of information from courts, bondsmen, pre-trial services and/or probation—almost like trying to drink from a fire hose. Hiring the right attorney removes some of the mystery of the process and can give you peace of mind that your case is being handled correctly. Your attorney and their office can help you know when you have to be in court, review discovery, and keep you updated on how your case is progressing.

7. Mind Those Bond Conditions

A bond is a contract between the court and the accused to ensure that the community will be safe upon their release and that they will appear when required. Being released on bond can make your situation much easier to manage. A good attorney can do great work for an incarcerated client, but there’s absolutely no doubt that it’s easier to fight against a charge from the outside. A client on bond can go to work, be with and provide for their family, and participate in the discovery and preparation process of their case. It also helps everyone keep a positive outlook on the case.

However, release on bond can pose serious challenges. Most clients take that contract seriously and have no problems. But bond conditions are usually in place for specific reasons. If a client isn’t obeying those conditions, not only does it create a more challenging pretrial experience, but it can also have a negative impact on the outcome of the criminal charge.

A client should always remember that the judge controls the procedures of a case and may also, at some point, decide whether the client is guilty or not guilty and/or what sentence should be assessed. In this light, being on bond can be viewed as an audition, and a client putting their best foot forward for the court is vital to a positive outcome in a criminal case.

Don’t Lose Heart After an Arrest. It Will Get Better

The bottom line, all post-arrest decisions have potentially life-altering implications. That’s why it’s so important to engage defense counsel early and know your rights. The courts can be an unkind place, but there is always room to maneuver with the right attorney by your side. Just remember that while this moment may feel like the worst thing you’ve ever experienced, there’s work to be done to make it better.

If you’ve been arrested in the Austin area, contact Cofer & Connelly, PLLC today. Our team of Austin criminal defense attorneys have decades of experience and a proven track record of getting even the most serious charges, dismissed, reduced, and acquitted.