What to do when a loved one is arrested

It comes out of nowhere. One minute, you are going about your day, just like any other day. Work, school, family, friends. The next minute, your phone is ringing with the news that will shake you to your very core.

Your loved one has been arrested.

It feels like the earth has opened beneath your feet and is threatening to swallow you whole. You struggle to make sense of what he’s saying, but it’s difficult to focus. The phone call is over in minutes and you’re left wondering, “What do I do now?”

What to do When a Loved One is Arrested

When a loved one is arrested, you’ll likely bulldoze through every emotion in the book. You’re scared, confused, maybe a little bit angry. You’re probably also quite embarrassed. After all, no one expects this to happen to them. If you’re like many, you freeze up like a deer in headlights. They don’t teach you how to handle these situations in school. You were never given a life manual that walks you through the next steps. Thankfully, you’ve got one now.

Stay Calm and Focused

This is easier said than done. While you’ve got a storm of emotions raging inside you, your loved one needs you to stay level-headed during this ordeal. You are their lifeline to the outside world and to returning to some semblance of a normal life. Hopefully, they have not committed the crime they are charged with, and evidence and time will prove this to be true. Of course, there’s also the possibility that they have committed the crime. In either case, remaining calm will help you make the right choices throughout this experience.

If you have the opportunity to speak with them, it’s important that you encourage them to stay calm as well. Please assure them that you will find them an attorney (if they need one) and work to get them released from jail.

Collect Information About Your Loved One’s Arrest

In this situation, knowledge truly is power. If you want to help your loved one, you’ll need to learn as much as you can about their arrest. Armed with this information, you can take the next steps to get them released from jail and get them legal representation.

Here are a few questions to get you started:

  1. Who is holding them? Many states, like California, have multiple law enforcement agencies where your loved one may be incarcerated. For example, Southern California has a police department, sheriff’s department, and a county jail.
  2. Was their car impounded during the arrest and how can a third-party person get it out of impound so it doesn’t accrue fees?
  3. What is the crime they are being charged with?
  4. When is their arraignment scheduled? 

The more you know, the better off you’ll be and the more educated decisions you can make.

Post Bail if it is Granted

When your loved one is arraigned, they will face one of three situations. These include:

  1. Being released on their own recognizance (ROR). This means that due to their roots in the community, their employment, no criminal record, and possibly the type of crime they are accused of committing, the judge expects that your loved one (the defendant) will return to court for their next hearing and do not need to be held in jail until that time. If they are released on their own recognizance, they can go home right after the arraignment.
  2. Released with bail. If the judge feels that your loved one is not a danger to the community, however, if released, they may fail to appear in court, they may require bail. Bail is a sum of money that the defendant is ordered to pay for their release. If they post bail (more on that in a few), but fail to return for their court date, they forfeit that money and a bench warrant will be issued for their arrest.
  3. Bail is not granted and the defendant remains in jail until their next court date. There are a number of factors that go into a judge making this decision. For one, what is the severity of the crime they are being charged with? Has the defendant failed to appear in court in the past? How is the defendant’s attitude in court? Are they a foreign resident who could easily leave the jurisdiction? What statements have law enforcement officials made in regards to the case and the defendant? What is his or her mental state and physical condition?

When the judge decides to grant bail, he or she will have to make another decision… how much will bail be? To determine this, the judge will consider:

  • The severity of the offense
  • Ties to the community
  • Past court appearance history
  • The defendant’s work situation and family responsibilities

The amount of bail can range from $15,000 for a restraining order violation, to well over $1,000,000 for assault with an attempt to rape or burglarize. If that seems steep to you, you are not alone. Most families do not have enough cash on hand to bail someone out of jail. When this is the case, it’s time to contact a bail bondsman. 

Hiring a Bail Bondsman

When you hire a bail bondsman, they will take up to 10% of the bail amount. For example, if bail has been set at $100,000, you can buy a bond for $10,000. You will likely be asked to put up collateral to secure a bond, especially if the bond is for a large amount. This is the bail bondsman’s insurance so if your loved one does not show up to their court appearances, the bail bondsman can recoup the money forfeited to the court.

Once bail has been made, your loved one will be released and can return home. This will allow you to create a plan for their defense and determine the next steps for keeping your loved one out of jail.

Being arrested or watching a loved one go through the system is not only terrifying, but it’s also painful for everyone involved. The emotional fallout alone is life-changing. Thankfully, when handled properly, the repercussions can be minimized. If bail is granted and you can bring your loved one home, do so. A bail bondsman can help get your loved one out of jail and back with the family where they belong.


If you need to post bail in Rancho Cucamonga, Van Nuys, or Los Angeles California, contact Dan’s Bail Bonds for an experienced, professional, and discrete bail bondsman.