What Happens If I Am Arrested?

For most people, the idea of being arrested is a foreign, and perhaps scary, concept. Understanding a bit about the procedure may help alleviate some of the stress associated with the event.

If you are arrested and charged with breaking a criminal law, the first step that will occur is an initial appearance. At the initial appearance, a magistrate, commissioner, or judge will advise you of the formal charge and potential penalties, and will set bond for future appearances in court. The bond may be a secured bond, requiring that cash or property be posted for release, or unsecured, in which case no cash or property will be required to be posted for release.

If the court sets a secured bond and you are unable to post it you may be incarcerated pending the next appearance in court. If bond is posted or unsecured, you will remain free pending the next scheduled proceeding, which is called an arraignment.

In most instances the initial appearance will occurs within 72 hours of the arrest, or the first date available if on a weekend or holiday. Sometimes a person in custody will be released if a decision is made not to file charges; however, you should be aware that this does not necessarily mean you are off the hook. Charges may be filed at a later date.

This article is authored through the collaborative efforts of Eric R. Pangburn, Travis James West and other legal professionals at West & Dunn, a law firm dedicated to providing high quality legal services to individuals and businesses, with a particular focus on assisting veterans of the United States Armed Forces. If you have questions or would like assistance with a legal matter, the attorneys at West & Dunn can be reached at 608-535-6420.