So, first, you got arrested. Now you’re either in jail (and that means your Mom is reading this) or you got bonded out and you’re freaked out about what to do next. That’s OK. We know what to do. This is what we do. (If you’re REALLY freaked out, just stop here and call (405)-236-1800 and say, “WHAT do I do?” We’re here to help.)
Mom, if you’re reading this, you have a decision to make. Do you need to bond Billy (or Sally) out of the county jail or do you need to let them sit and hire them an attorney?
Well, here’s how it works. Most counties in Oklahoma require you to hire your own attorney if you bond out of jail. So if you bond out and you don’t or can’t hire an attorney, you will have wasted your bond money. The judge might put you back in jail and assign you a public defender. In most cases the judge wants you to have an attorney! He wants to make sure that someone is looking out for you. If you can’t hire your own, he’ll give you an attorney, a public defender. But the only way you qualify for a public defender is if you have no way to hire one on your own. And in a lot of Oklahoma counties that usually means that you have to be in jail to get one. Yuck!
If you’re going to pick a bondsman, pick a nice one if you can. There’s not much choice in some counties. There’s LOTS of choices in others. They all charge about the same and they provide pretty much the same service. So pick one that treats you right. (AND PAY THEM! They can put you back in jail faster than a knife fight in a phone booth.)
So, bond out? Don’t bond out? If you have to make a choice between bond and hiring an attorney, I almost always recommend hiring the attorney (whether you hire me or someone else). That can be hard to face: leaving your loved one in jail so you can hire them an attorney, but in a serious case, like Murder, Rape, or Drug Trafficking, they need a lawyer on their side!
[By the way, I’m not knocking Public Defenders, they are usually GREAT attorneys. They know the law. They know the prosecutors and judges. They know the system. They usually have a lot of experience or access to someone with a lot of experience. AND, (unfortunately) they have LOTS of clients. They simply don’t have the time to spend explaining all the little details to each and every one of them. If you have a Public Defender: stop bitching, listen, answer, tell the truth, trust their judgment and stick to your guns.]
OK. If someone has bonded you out, you need a lawyer. That will cost money. I’m not saying you shouldn’t start looking for a lawyer cause you don’t have a lot of money, but I am saying that if you don’t have a job, you need one. Or you need to start talking to your friends and relatives about helping you out. And you can do those things AND look for a lawyer at the same time.
Ask friends who they would recommend. Ask Uncle Leo who got him that good deal in 1998. Look on the internet. Ask that cop you know. And then call them. Call the lawyer. It’s a hard call to make. You’re scared and evidently some attorneys are unpleasant. Our office tries to treat phone callers like the potential clients they are.
If you call one and he’s (or she’s) unpleasant, hang up and call another one. A lawyer is someone you need to trust. You are going to pay a lawyer lots of money. They aren’t cheap. (Even the crappy ones.) If you can find a lawyer that makes you feel comfortable and you feel like he or she knows what they’re talking about, you’re off to a good start. If you want more details, I have another post devoted entirely to How To Pick An Attorney. And, of course, you can do the easy thing and call (405) 236-1800 right now and get all this over with….
Now you’ve got a lawyer. Here’s what you do:
First: Trust them. If you don’t trust them, don’t hire them. No, really.
Second: Pay them. They are not your friend or your buddy. They are your lawyer. They do this to feed their families, not because they’re nice people. They might be nice people, but that is NOT why they are helping you.
Third: Tell them the truth. Every lie you tell only exposes you to a worse outcome.
Fourth: Do as they suggest. (For example, if they suggest you go to treatment, go. If they tell you to shut down your Facebook account, shut it down. It may be inconvenient. Your lawyer knows this. But, as an example, it is less inconvenient, less expensive, and less difficult to find childcare for the time you’re in treatment than for the Two to Ten years you might spend in prison.)
OK. You’ve got your marching orders. The most important thing to do is Get Busy. Time is a-wasting. There is a deadline and there will be a test! Call (405) 236-1800 and get this thing going. Good luck!