What Happens After I’m Arrested In Massachusetts?

We hope the our readers are having a safe and happy Fourth of July. While this is a great time of year with a lot of celebrations, unfortunately a lot of arrests also happen over this holiday. So with that reality in the background, read on!

Of course no one ever wants to get arrested (unless you’re George Clooney, whose recent arrest due to his Sudan protest made headlines back in March). But if you do find yourself arrested in Massachusetts for DUI or another crime, over this Fourth of July holiday weekend or in the future, there are several things that you should know and bear in mind, so you do not have to deal with the anxiety of “the unexpected.”

After an arrest – say, for alleged Dedham shoplifting, or a Foxboro assault and battery –– you will be verbally given your Miranda rights, and taken to a police station in the town or city where the crime allegedly occurred. There, you will be photographed, fingerprinted, and booked for the alleged crime. At that time all of the items in your possession will be taken from you and inventoried, including your cell phone and wallet. Afterwards, you will be placed in a cell. You will be allowed a phone call.

Next, you will be bailed by a bail bondsman. For most minor crimes – such as Wrentham shoplifting – your bail will be set at a nominal $40. This can be paid by cash, a bank or personal check. Usually, your phone call is to the person who will come to jail and “bail you out,” meaning, post the bail that has been set by a bail bondsman to assure your appearance in court the next business day that the court is in session. Assuming the bail amount is paid, you are then free to leave.

However, on the next business day you will be arraigned in the District Court having jurisdiction over where the alleged crime occurred. It is advisable that you have a Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer present with you at your arraignment. If you do not have an attorney present with you at your arraignment, you will be asked by the judge if you can afford an attorney. If you answer that you cannot afford to hire an attorney, you will be asked to fill out a series of forms to determine whether or not you qualify for a public defender. If the court determines that you cannot afford an attorney, a public defender who is in the courtroom at the time will be appointed to represent you. That attorney is called a “bar advocate,” and he or she will speak for you.

If you do not have an attorney present at arraignment but can afford one, you should simply plead “not guilty” to the charge and politely request a second court appearance date, so that the attorney that you will hire can appear with you, as your legal counsel. Unless the prosecution seeks increased bail at your arraignment, (usually due to the severity of the crime,) you will be released and scheduled to appear at the next court appearance that is scheduled for your case. The purpose of bail (whether set at a police station or in court,) is to assure your return to court. If you have a history of defaults with the court system or if your alleged crime is serious — for example, Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon – the District Attorney may seek increased bail at your arraignment – in other words, he or she may go beyond the normal routine and request a bail hearing. If that happens, you must have an attorney representing you.

If the District Attorney seeks increased bail at arraignment and you can afford an attorney but don’t yet have one, the court will likely appoint a bar advocate to temporarily present your bail argument solely for purposes of the bail hearing.

At your second court appearance date, at that time it is imperative that you have a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney representing you, as very technical legal matters regarding your defense begin at that point with the District Attorney’s Office.

When you hire an attorney such as a Norfolk County criminal defense attorney, you will be expected to sign a standard fee agreement, which the attorney that you hire should explain to you clearly, and you will normally be required to submit an advance retainer fee prior to professional services being rendered. Such retainer fees are required to be deposited in what is known as a “Clients Funds Account,” where the funds are held until a Fee Invoice is submitted by the attorney for professional services rendered, and the funds are then withdrawn by the attorney for payment of legal counsel.

Our office has created a FREE and extremely valuable list of tips for anyone that faces an arrest in Massachusetts, called “Top Ten Things To Do If You Are Arrested In Massachusetts.” Click here, and you will be taken to a form on our website that you can fill out to immediately receive this list. It is extremely helpful for anyone facing an arrest in Massachusetts, or for their family members. Download it now!

Yes, getting arrested is painful. But if you know what to expect, you can make the experience as least painful as possible. We hope this brief “backgrounder” has helped.