Either through your attorney’s skilled advocacy or sheer luck, you have been bailed out following arrest. Back to normal, right? Nothing could be farther from the truth:
Lawyer up: You are now litigating a criminal case against a practiced and skilled lawyer: the prosecutor. You can’t enter that fight without a lawyer of your own. Immediately apply for an appointed lawyer or hire one such as the criminal defense lawyer locals trust. You need someone with the skill, experience, and expertise to protect your rights.
Silence: Don’t talk. Simply the best advice you will ever receive. Do not talk about your case with anyone. Most defense attorneys don’t even want to hear much about your case at first and will wait until you review police reports before asking questions. Even the truth can be used by a skilled prosecutor to make it seem like you are lying. The only effective countermeasure is silence. Resist the urge to ruin your defense.
Life under the microscope: Once you are released on bail, every police officer will know it. Memorize your bail conditions. They are the key to your continued freedom. Violations of bail conditions are new and separate crimes. If your bail conditions include searches, have a friend come over immediately after your release and clean out your home and your vehicle. All specifically prohibited items (alcohol, drugs, firearms, weapons, computers) must be moved to a safe place beyond your access and control. The police will do a bail check when it is least convenient, so be prepared and avoid spending the weekend in jail or having your bail completely revoked.
No contact conditions: If your bail bond prohibits contact with certain persons, go out of your way to avoid contact of any kind, both direct and indirect (through third parties). If you find yourself in their vicinity, like at a party or a store, just leave. Avoid the risk of arrest and additional criminal charges.
Counseling: Ask your lawyer and, more importantly, ask yourself whether there is some counseling you will wish you had when you are next standing before a judge. Whether it be at a bail amendment hearing or sentencing, taking responsibility for whatever personal issues may have landed you in trouble can’t hurt and almost certainly will help. Look for counseling practices that use sliding scales if you are low income. Consult with an attorney as to whether your statements to a counselor are confidential. However, do not talk about your case in group sessions. Seriously consider taking medications suggested by your counselor.
Work: Judges love workers. Keep your job, get your job back, or find a job, it does not matter. It’s a fact of life: Workers get better treatment than the unemployed.
Education: Making a start on your GED is a great idea while on bail because that program often can be finished while serving a sentence. However, if it looks like incarceration is imminent, consult with your attorney about whether to start a new semester so as to avoid wasting money on tuition.
Jail information: If incarceration is likely, you may want to visit the website of your local jail or state prison’s for important information about medications you can bring in, money for commissary, visitation rules and schedule, good time jail credits, and work programs. If the website is not helpful, give them a call.
Avoid criminally involved persons/places: This is obvious to some, but regarding your buddy who is on probation or any bar: steer clear. Being in their vicinity multiplies your chance of police contact, search, and suspicion. Not a good idea. Lead the life you would want the judge to know about.
Child Support, restitution: Saving a substantial amount of money for restitution or paying down a child support obligation naturally will make a judge want to give you a lower sentence so you can continue doing the same.