A friend or family member has just been arrested, what should I do?  

By Last Updated: March 16, 2022

Our lawyers frequently receive phone calls either from people in custody seeking legal advice, or from friends and family of people who have just been arrested, looking for some guidance as to what to do next. Although the process does have to play itself out once someone is arrested, there are some steps you can take to assist the person in custody.

If your friend or family member has been arrested and you wish to assist them, you should try to be as accessible as possible by telephone because the person arrested may be calling you for assistance in finding a lawyer for them, or to figure out what to do next.  If your friend or family member does contact you, make sure you write down the following:

  1. where they are,
  2. what they are charged with
  3. who the responsible officer is, and
  4. the best phone number to call back on to reach the person calling.

Your friend or family member will have the opportunity to call a lawyer from custody as well, and the lawyer they contact will be able to give them some preliminary legal advice free of charge.  However, it is unlikely that the person in custody will be able to get a lawyer to do anything more for them without being properly retained. Because the person who is under arrest does not have access to their wallet, this is where your help becomes invaluable.  You can be of assistance by contacting a lawyer on their behalf, and likely hiring the lawyer on behalf of the person in custody. Most lawyers can be retained by credit card payment, or through email money transfer, so don’t worry about having to run money over to their office on short notice. If paying by credit card, be prepared to text or email a copy of your ID, as well as the front and back of your credit card. This step is typically necessary to ensure all the information is accurate and legitimate.

As long as you took the time to write down where your friend or family member is, what the charges are, and how to contact them, you can also forward all this information to the lawyer you hire so it makes it easier for the lawyer to assist further.

About The Author

Michael Oykhman

Managing Partner

Michael Oykhman is a senior lawyer and founder of Strategic Criminal Defence, a full-service criminal law firm with central law offices across Western Canada and Ontario.

My professional experience consists of countless court appearances and thousands of successful defences and satisfied clients. Over the last 10 years, I have worked to build a law office where all the lawyers share our collective experience, resources, and passion to help people. Our team approach to legal representation is client–rather than only law–centred. We look for opportunities to add value to our clients through strategic thinking and creative solutions.

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