Many of us have been there. We have been in bed fast asleep or sitting watching the TV, minding our own business when the call comes out of the blue from the police. Perhaps your loved one has had one too many drinks at a bar or a nightclub and you are asked to go and collect them from the police station. Perhaps they have been arrested and you are called by their attorney to let you know they are in custody.
Families are caught completely off guard in this kind of circumstances. This kind of situation frequently occurs in the lives of people who have never dealt with the police or the court system before and have no idea what to do.
A family member or friend who has been charged with a heinous crime is one of the most terrifying things a person can experience. A slew of questions floats through your head. What exactly happened? What exactly did they do? What could be causing this to happen? What can I do to help them? You believe they are innocent; yet, how do you prove it? Especially as a parent, there is frequently a desire to determine whether your child was the perpetrator of the crime and to attempt to rectify the situation. Accepting that there is not much you can do to help a loved one who is facing criminal charges is the most difficult element of dealing with this situation.
Cases wind their way through the judicial system like the longest game of Chess that you could ever imagine. Even though you want the matter over with as quickly as possible, unless there is a rapid plea agreement, the case will have to play out through discovery, motions, and finally a trial before it can be concluded. It is nothing like what you see on television. The first step is to acknowledge that the majority of cases will take 6-12 months, or longer in the case of significant cases, to resolve. Even while every case is unique, and some instances are resolved considerably more rapidly than others, major cases might take several months, if not years, to resolve. A great deal of effort is put into defending someone. Reviewing discovery, drafting motions, and appearing in court are just a few of the tasks that attorneys must complete, which is one of the reasons why cases take so long to move through the system.
While there is support available for the victims of a crime and the person accused of committing the crime through lawyers and other law professionals, the families are often forgotten about. Here, we look at what you can do to come to terms with a loved one being charged with a crime, and how you can help them.
Take stock of your emotions
Especially if you reside in a tight-knit community, one of the things that many people are concerned about is receiving judgment from others. In some cases, you may be concerned that your family’s reputation will be damaged if someone participating in the procedure is familiar with your relative or if the record is made public.
Before performing any other action, bring your attention back to your own sensations and thoughts.
First and foremost, examine your own emotions. Do you have feelings of concern, sadness, betrayal, or denial? Your emotional candor will be beneficial regardless of what happens.
By maintaining your composure, you will be able to prevent your loved one from making any hasty decisions for himself or herself, such as carrying out an absconded probation.
Understand the crime and gather information
One of the first and most critical steps is to determine why the arrest was made in the first place. What exactly are the charges, and what laws have been broken? Find out what the potential repercussions could be before proceeding. In the first few minutes following an arrest, you should ask as many questions as you can. You should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. As soon as you are aware that someone is taken into custody, make careful to document everything that happened, as well as anything you are told by officials.
If you happen to be present at the time of an arrest, maintain your composure in your words, body language, and facial expressions. Encourage your friend, family member, or loved one to maintain their composure, no matter how difficult it may be. After that, you should immediately begin the process of gathering as much information as you possibly can. Ask if you can accompany them. If this is not the case, inquire as to whether they have been arrested or are simply being detained and about the charges against your friend, family member, or loved one. Obtain information on whether or whether the arresting officers have a warrant, and if so, obtain information on which court issued the warrant. Take note of the arresting officer’s name and badge number. Also, if at all feasible, obtain the address and phone number of the facility where your loved one will be transported. Furthermore, you have the option of creating a record of what happened at the moment of their arrest by capturing the events with your smartphone.
If arresting officers conduct a pat-down or a more comprehensive search, film it on your smartphone (if you are able) and make a note of whatever they confiscate.
Put boundaries into place to keep yourself happy and safe
Because your emotions are so strong, every decision you make is likely to feel like it has big consequences.
This is especially true if you are the primary source of emotional support for the accused. The procedure from an accusation to the filing of a lawsuit, if one is filed at all, could take a long time and be fraught with ups and downs.
One method of establishing healthy boundaries is to maintain a clear separation between your personal connection and the charges leveled against your partner. Be available for emotional support, but avoid becoming unduly involved in the legal aspects of the allegations against them.
By establishing this boundary, you also protect yourself from the prospect of being summoned to testify against them in the future, which is something that many people do not consider.
As a result, one of the most widespread misconceptions is that information disclosed to you while you are in an attorney’s office will be treated in strict confidence and will be categorized as privileged information.
This is true only for the attorney-client relationship, and only when they are alone with each other. It does not provide protection to any other members of the family who may be present in the room. it is only the accused’s husband or wife that is an exception to this rule.
Before entering the interview or meeting room, consider whether it is in yours and your loved one’s best interests. It could make things even more difficult for everyone involved.
Find legal representation for the accused as soon as possible
Because they have been accused of a crime, your loved one is now under intense scrutiny; thus, you should encourage them to avoid making emotionally charged and impulsive judgments.
Waiting until after the case has been filed before hiring an attorney is a common emotional move.
However, by delaying hiring an attorney, they forfeit the opportunity to limit the damage or possibly avoid the criminal justice system altogether. Adequate defense may be able to assist you as soon as your loved one is accused or arrested (or as soon as you suspect it will happen). This may prevent a case from being brought in the first place.
This involves assisting your loved one during the first inquiry, which may include the interrogation process. Your loved one’s decision to speak to the authorities (or refusal to speak to them) because they believe they are innocent may have long-term consequences.
Your loved one will benefit from every privilege they are entitled to under the law if they work with an attorney who understands the procedure.
If your friend, family member, or loved one has been arrested, they will be going through one of the most stressful and trying moments of their lives. You will want to keep in touch with them after that and possibly their lawyer too. Your friend, family member, or loved one will be immensely thankful to you. Your words of encouragement and support would be really useful.
Being the relative or friend of someone who is charged with a crime is challenging and upsetting, whatever the crime and whether or not you believe that they are innocent. Looking after yourself in this situation, getting the most appropriate legal help and staying calm are the most important things that you can do to help your loved one.