If you cannot make bail after an arrest, you can still pick yourself up by making the most of your down time. With an eye toward maximizing your chances at future bail hearings or minimizing your sentencing exposure, do the following:
Silence: It’s not only golden, it’s the simplest and best advice you’ll ever get. Anything you say in jail to anyone is the same as whispering in the prosecutor’s ear. Apparently friendly inmates and even guards will work you for statements to help themselves. Some of these characters are desperate and will take the smallest seed of truth and spin a false confession around it. Even if what you say is the truth, a reasonably skilled prosecutor can exploit your words to make it look like you are lying. The only defense is to not talk about your case at all. Ignore that advice and your chances of a worse outcome skyrocket.
Jail phones: Jail phones often will have a message at the beginning of each call that the calls are being recorded. Those recordings can be a treasure trove for prosecutors. Again, do not discuss anything about your case. Say nothing on those phones that you would not want played to a jury or sentencing judge. Obviously, do not talk to witnesses or alleged victims about your case on these phones, even through third party calls.
Work the jail programs: Some inmates will downplay their importance, but taking advantage of jail programs can make a huge difference in your case. If you have substance abuse issues, get right into whatever programs are offered. Even if you do not believe you will personally benefit, participating can’t hurt and often helps. If you have a mental health history, try to make arrangements to see the medical staff and restart any medications you may have stopped prior to being arrested. If you have access to GED classes, either mentor or enroll. Getting involved tells the judge that you are a lower risk than someone just doing the time.
Respect corrections officers and fellow inmates: You are not going to like being in jail, that is a given, but if you take it out on the guards or your cellies it can affect your classification within the jail and may find its way back to the prosecutor. Guards form impressions very quickly and will single out troublemakers. Look to some of the older inmates for examples.
Character references: Think about the people who know the real you, before you ended up in jail. Anyone can write a character letter and send it to your lawyer (not directly to the judge), but try to reach out to persons whose opinions may impress a judge: teachers, police officers from your home town, members of government. Character references give foundation to your sentencing argument that “this is not you.”
Formulate a plan: You obviously should be contemplating your defense, challenging the prosecution’s proof, but Plan B in a criminal defense always has to include the “what if” of conviction by plea or trial. When you are released, where will you live? Will that person vouch for you at sentencing? Will your employer take you back and will they write a letter to that effect? Have you made contact with prior care providers (counselors, psychiatrists, etc.) and made an appointment immediately after your release? Do you have family and people from the community who will come to court for you? When judges see that kind of support, they are less uneasy about a lighter sentence. Consult with an experienced attorney such as the Bangor ME criminal defense lawyer locals trust.
Thanks to our authors at Bate Law for their insight into Criminal Defense Law.