What to Expect Your First Time In Jail

Imagine finding yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time. You may be driving home after drinking too much or find yourself in an illegal situation. Then, suddenly, you see the swirling red and blue lights, hear the sirens, and see the officers bursting onto the scene. You suddenly realize that you’re not going to get out of this one: you’re going to jail. 

If you have never been to jail before, the prospect of that first visit can be terrifying. Most of us get our ideas of what jail is like from TV and pop culture, and those depictions of inmate life are rarely flattering. Add the fear of the unknown to the more concrete fear of losing your license or standing trial, and you have a recipe for crippling anxiety. While it’s completely normal to be fearful going into that unfamiliar and potentially dangerous situation, it can be comforting to have some realistic ideas of what to expect. 

Arrest and Transport

When you are arrested, the arresting officer will read you a warning that is often referred to as the Miranda warning or Miranda Rights. This is a short warning to let you know that you have the right to remain silent. If you do say anything, it could be used against you in court. They also let you know that you have the right to an attorney. If you can’t afford one, you will be provided with one by the state. 

At this time, officers may transport you to jail immediately in a police car. If you were in a situation where many people were arrested , you may be transported in a multi-passenger van or bus with other inmates. Police may also frisk you to check for weapons and evidence. They may also search your car if you have one with you. They will also most likely confiscate your personal belongings after creating and having you sign an inventory.

Booking and Arraignment

When you arrive at your local jail, the next step is booking. During the booking process, officers will ask you for some basic information, such as your address and date of birth. They will also take your fingerprints and take a photo to help identify you in your case file. Officers have the responsibility to book you into jail in a reasonable amount of time, usually only a few hours. If they fail to do that, your attorney can petition a judge for a writ of habeas corpus, which requires the police to bring you before the court so they can determine if you are being held lawfully.

Once your booking is complete, your case will be assigned to a prosecutor who will decide what charges to file against you. Within about 72 hours, you will have a hearing called an arraignment. At this time, you will appear with your attorney to hear the charges against you and enter a plea. The judge will also make a decision on bail and set the amount. If you are granted bail (which you should be if your crime was not violent), then your family or friends can begin the process of arranging the bail and your release.

Jail Time

Whether you are just a few days in jail waiting for your arraignment and bail or settling in to serve a short term sentence, serving jail time is the worst part of the arrest and detainment process. But chances are that your imagination is worse than reality. If you know what to expect and know some basic precautions to take to protect yourself, your stay in jail doesn’t have to be miserable.

If you haven’t already, you will change clothes from your own clothing to a uniform issued by the local justice department. When you arrive at your permanent cell, you can expect to find at least one roommate. You won’t be allowed to have any of your personal belongings, so you may get bored or fidgety, trying to find something to do with your hands. However, you should resist the temptation to move around into other people’s spaces or touch their things. Even if you mean no harm, fellow inmates might take offense to having their personal belongings touched or their space invaded. 

Use the first day or so to be quiet and pay attention to your surroundings. Make note of any rules that you observe, such as how inmates take turns using the phone or getting in the food line. Be personable and reciprocate conversations as much as possible, but try to avoid giving away too much personal information. Try to avoid any appearance of impropriety and stay away from any illegal activities. Spend time reading and participating in any activities that will keep you positive and hopeful, such as group counseling and religious services.

Make Your First Jail Visit a Short One with ABC Bail Bonds

No matter how long your first jail visit is, it will feel too long. ABC Bail Bonds can help your friends and family post bail quickly and get you back home where you belong. Give us a call today or save our number for any future bail needs. 

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