Afraid that you might go to jail at your court date? Do this before court!
Most people do not go to jail at their court date. However, it sometimes happens. I wrote a blog post called, “Will I get arrested and go to jail at my court date for my criminal case?” and it has been very popular—in fact, it is one of the most popular pages on my website!
So, I thought it would be a good idea to discuss some things that can help people who are afraid they might go to jail at court. There are several things that you can do in advance that will help you, if you are arrested, to get out of jail as soon as possible!
If you are afraid that you might go to jail at your court date, be sure to do the following before you go to court:
1. Find out before you go to court if you have a warrant for you arrest
If you have a warrant for your arrest, then there is an extremely high chance that you’re going to jail when you go to court in Sarasota County or Manatee County. This is because the clerks that are in court and sit next to the judge will usually alert the judge and the bailiffs that there is a warrant for your arrest. There are a few ways that you can check if there is a warrant out for you:
Call a criminal attorney – Criminal attorneys can help determine if there is an active warrant for your arrest.
Do a warrant search - If you’re worried about a Sarasota County warrant you can do a warrant search on the Sarasota Sheriff’s website
Do an FDLE search - Do a Florida Department of Law Enforcement “Wanted Persons Search”
Call a bond company – A local bond company will usually help you figure out if you have a warrant and instruct you on what to do if you do have one.
2. If you have a warrant, contact a bondsperson and arrange a “walk-through” well before your court date.
It is usually better to resolve the warrant, if possible, before your court date. That way you are not arrested in court and have to wait to get transported from court back to the jail. You also avoid the embarrassment of being the person that delays things and gets arrested in court. If you have a warrant it is best to make arrangements asap with a bond company to turn yourself in. The best way to do this is by doing what we call a “walk-through.”
How do I arrange a walk-through with a bondsperson?
Call a recommended bond company and tell them that you have a warrant and would like to arrange a walk-through. Ideally, you should meet up with the bondsperson, sign the papers, and pay the bond, IN ADVANCE. The bondsperson can then arrange to go with you to the jail with the bond already paid. The jail will then book you and then release you. This is the easiest, quickest, and most pain-free way to deal with it if you have a warrant.
If you call a bondsman and you are told that you cannot bond on your warrant or you do not have a bond, check out this post titled, “What does a "$0 bond" mean for a criminal charge?”
3. Do not have anything illegal on your person, in your purse, or on your phone!
If you are arrested in court you will be searched at the jail (and searched more thoroughly than you were going in to court). If you have anything illegal on you then you will obviously be charged with it’s possession. So, make sure you do not have anything illegal on you or in your purse, when you go to court. Be sure to check all your pockets and your purse for pieces of broken pills, shake or crumbs of marijuana, empty baggies, etc.—in Florida they will charge you with a felony for even a minuscule amount of a controlled substance, like a broken pill.
Also, do not have anything illegal or incriminating on your cell phone. Yes, police are supposed to have a warrant to search your phone, but nevertheless, play it safe.
4. Memorize your spouse’s, best friend’s, girlfriend’s/boyfriend’s, mother’s, some other family member’s phone number.
Law enforcement will sometimes let people look at their phones and gather numbers after they are arrested and they are at the jail, but not always. Memorize the number(s) of people who would be willing to help you if you go to jail.
5. Make plans for your kids and pets
As a criminal defense attorney I have actually gone to the house of a client and picked up his little dog after the client was arrested and unable to get out of jail (and had no family to help him), but this is not in my job description! Please make sure that a trusted friend or family member is available to watch your loved ones in the event that you are detained in court.
6. Memorize your criminal defense lawyer's phone number
A good criminal defense attorney, one who cares about his or her clients, will help you out if you are arrested at court by calling a bondsperson, your family, etc. So, in addition to memorizing a friend’s number, memorize the number of a recommended criminal attorney who can help you if you are in jail.
Also, if you are stuck in jail because you have no bond, or the bond is too high and you can’t afford it, a criminal defense attorney can schedule a bond reduction hearing with the judge asap to try to get you out of there.
7. Be sure to save money in the event that you will need to bond out
Last, but probably the most important—be sure to save and put aside money in the event that you do go to jail and need to bond out. Most people will have a bond on their warrant, if they pay the bond (with or without the help of a bondsperson) they can bond out of jail. The last thing you want is to be stuck in jail with nobody able or willing to pay the bond for you.
The criminal defense attorneys at Soler & Simon can help you if you have a warrant, have a loved one stuck in jail, or would like some advice regarding a criminal case. Please visit our homepage to learn more about our lawyers and criminal defense services.