No parent wants to get a phone call from a child in jail. Nevertheless, mistakes happen. Don't compound their mistake by mishandling their call to you.
Being arrested is scary and, odds are, your child is going to be extremely upset by the time they call you for help. Your first priority is to calm them down. Your second priority is to keep them quiet.
Do not make your child explain what happened. In fact, don't even ask. And don't let them tell you. Your child is probably calling from the booking desk and is standing in front of a police officer. Or he or she is calling from the holding area and can be overheard. What your child says to you on the phone can be detrimental to their case. Calmly explain that they will be able to tell you everything later.
You must encourage your child not to waive their right to remain silent or to legal counsel. Everything your child says while in police custody can be put in their case file and be used against them. Stress that they are to remain calm, courteous and quiet. You need to know the charge, if bond has been set, and if not, when it will be set. These are the only questions to be answered on the phone.
If the child is too distraught to answer, have him give the phone to the desk sergeant or jailer. Let your son or daughter know that you are going to help them and will see them as soon as you can.
Once you know the amount of bond, get your child out of jail. If you don't have the cash on hand, you can use a bondsman. They will post bond and charge you a percentage of the total amount as their fee. You will also have to pay jailer fees. If there is no way you can post bond, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.
Though your child can be represented by the public defender, he or she will have a much better chance at minimizing the legal consequences if you hire an experienced DWI attorney. Take some time and research local attorneys. Once one is hired, information passed between your child and the attorney is privileged. The attorney will not be able to update you on the case or explain the details of the arrest without authorization—even if you are footing the bill.
Depending on the circumstances, a DWI arrest can affect the rest of the child's life. New Hampshire takes DWI very seriously and offenses carry stiff penalties. The whole process is going to be difficult on everyone involved. Odds are, you will be caught off guard when you receive the initial phone call, and you may feel overwhelmed throughout the entire process. Choosing the right attorney will go a long way toward not only building your child's defense, but also supporting your family through a very difficult time.
For more information on how to choose the right attorney, read Picking a DWI Attorney.
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