If you carry a gun, you should have a plan in case you are arrested! I know this sounds alarmist and extreme and many of you may be thinking, “why do I need to do that, I never break the law”, “I have never been in trouble with the police” or “I don’t need a plan to be arrested; that may be fine for criminals, but it will never happen to me!”
Well, I truly hope this unfortunate event never happens to you, but the fact is, no matter who you are, it can happen to anyone.
So writes attorney Michael D. Wisdom, former president of the Texas Law Shield, a firearms legal defense program developed by Houston-based Walker, Rice & Wisdom, P.C., Attorneys at Law.
Though the firm started the LawShield service in Texas, it is in the process of rolling out a multi-state retainer program for CHL holders. The advice below about legal issues related to gun use is pulled from the firm’s archives and used with permission.
Once you make the decision to possess and carry a concealed handgun, you are also making the decision that you may have to use it. The collective experience of the lawyers in this program from observing the justice system in action and from the scores of police officers we represent is: if you use your gun, there is a very, very high degree of probability that you will be the person arrested. You may even be arrested by an officer when you have done nothing wrong in the eyes of the law. However, the system will leave it up to the detectives, district attorneys and defense lawyers to sort it all out. This is particularly true if you have to use your gun outside of your home. In just the last two weeks we have had several members use their guns in defense of themselves and/or their property. Every single member has been taken into custody and each one received a free ride downtown. Further, every single one of them had never before been in trouble with the police. We are not alarmists; we simply want you to know the reality that it can happen to you.
While you may be lucky and never have to take this ride, it is a wise policy to make sure you have a plan in place just in case you are arrested. You must understand when you are taken into custody, you are in the legal system with all its flaws and warts, the good and the bad. First, you must understand that the police have up to 48 hours to present you to a magistrate, charge you with an offense and allow you to have a bail (legalese for the fact that the police can hold you for up to 48 hours without charging you with anything). I will leave an in depth analysis of the legal rights of the police to hold you without charging you for another newsletter. For purposes of this newsletter, I am going to assume that you have been arrested and charged with an offense. While for purposes of our program, I am specifically referring to charges resulting from “use of a firearm.” For general purposes of having a plan in case of arrest, it can be implemented regardless of the criminal charge.
First of all, this is real life; it is not like television! While CSI can solve a murder in 60 minutes from start to finish with time left over for their sponsors, if you are arrested, you will find yourself waiting, waiting and waiting most of the time. The time it takes just to get processed into the “system” and to appear on a clerk’s computer screen at the jail, may take longer than a whole season of CSI episodes. You must understand that you may be cut off from the outside world, including your attorneys, for hours. Because you never know how a situation will develop, or for that matter where you will be arrested, assume that your ability to communicate with the outside world is very limited. The proverbial one phone call may or may not be your reality for a while. Therefore, if you only get that one call, make it count!!!
If you are in jail, what do you need most from the outside world? Leaving aside all of the lawyer issues and other legal issues involved in the defense of your case for one moment, in this humble lawyer’s experience, most people want and need: 1) assistance getting out of jail if possible, and 2) help minimizing the immediate effects the arrest may have on the rest of your life. It is for these two needs that you should have a plan of action.
There are two major components to being prepared in the event of a gun-related arrest. The first is having a trusted person on the outside who will help you – your lifeline. The second is having all of the necessary information available for your lifeline if and when they need it.
Who is Going to Be Your Lifeline?
If you are arrested, you will need someone on the outside who can make financial decisions to help you while you are indisposed. This person can be a spouse, friend, family member or anyone that you believe will assist you if you are arrested. It is a good idea to check with this person and make sure that he/she is willing to assist you financially if the wheels come off your wagon and you are arrested. I point out this fundamental fact because in one case our Firm was handling a while back, a husband was arrested and when the gentleman called his wife to help him bail out, she felt that some time behind bars might be good for him. This did not have a positive effect on his case. So, please check with your lifeline to make sure they will help you and make sure you have their phone number memorized. Don’t just program their telephone number into your cell phone; you may not have access to that nice smartphone while you are in custody or it might be dead when they finally let you use it. You must memorize the phone number. If you made your first telephone call in custody to your lawyers (an excellent idea), make sure you give them all of your lifeline’s information so they can coordinate with them to help you.
What Should You Have Ready for Your Lifeline?
Next, you must plan on the fact that you will not have access to anything which will help your circumstance while you are in jail. Therefore, make sure you have all the information that you may need in one centralized place so that you can get the necessary information to your lifeline who can help you if you get arrested. Everyone’s list of critical information may be different, but I suggest that you may want to include at minimum the following:
1. A list of other people and their contact information who could help you.
Lawyers, other family members, etc.
2. Work contact information.
So that you don’t lose your job.
Make sure that you have the ability to direct your lifeline to money that could possibly be used as your bail bond fees (whether this is cash at home, money in an account, an I.O.U. from a friend, a family member who would loan you the money, etc.). If you are in jail, you will want to be out of jail. So have a plan to make bail before anything ever happens;
4. Name and contact information for a bail bonding company.
It is much better to have a good one in mindbefore you need it.
5. Any other information that your circumstances dictate
Telephone numbers for day care, pet care, doctors, medications, etc.
This is all very common sense information, but few of us think about these things ever happening to us. Planning to be arrested is right up there with pre-arranged funerals and root canals; they are all on the list of things I don’t want to do today. However, if it happens to you, and you have a plan in place, your time in custody may be a lot less stressful.
Above all else, if you are arrested, don’t panic, remain calm and don’t say anything without your lawyer’s advice. You must realize that it could be awhile before your lawyer or your loved ones can find out where you are in “the system”, much less gain access to you. Be patient. Unfortunately, if you are perceived by the police and the jailers as “a problem”, you could be the victim of being “tuned up” or being “lost in the system”. These are two things whose existence is denied by all in the jail system. However, these “attitude adjustments” with people in custody continue to happen with alarming frequency. Jail is not like television; it is much worse! Always remember to be calm, be courteous and be quiet. These things will have an effect on not only how long it takes to get you processed out of jail, but may ultimately have an effect on the outcome of your case. I hope none of you ever need your plan to be arrested, but as always, if you need us, we are here to help.
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