Minimizing financial impacts of being put in police custody?

IANAL, entertainment purposes only etc etc etc…

Keep politics out of this.

One of my greatest fears is to be accused or convicted of a crime I didn’t commit. With the rise of YouTube, it doesn’t help that people post videos of these situations, making me believe that this is a very possible thing that could happen to any of us.

Don’t believe me?

When I get pulled over, I know what I’m supposed to do; be nice, don’t admit guilt, keep the stop unrememberable for the officer, then fight the ticket afterward.

This got me thinking, if one is stopped by a police officer on the street or arrested, does one just keep their mouth shut and use their phone call for a lawyer? Do they give you multiple phone calls (say a lawyer doesn’t pick up the phone)?

For the sake of discussion, let’s say this happens to someone in the US. Are there steps one could take to minimize the financial impacts? I assume if one were taken to jail on a Sunday with work the next day, are there any requirements to report it to your place of work, or at least let them know you’re “sick” or otherwise “out of office”?


This is an automatically-generated Wiki post for this new topic. Any member can edit this post and use it as a summary of the topic’s highlights.

I don’t think it’s an insurable risk. But you can self-insure against it by having assets, and the sort of job where you’re so valuable that they’re not going to fire you for missing a week unexpectedly. Plus the outcomes are much better when you have the resources to make bail immediately and hire private counsel.

All of these, of course, are serious problems for the working poor with no safety net, hence the “end cash bail” movement. The financial penalty of losing a job and housing is a huge incentive for them to plead it out.


I don’t want to dismiss the possibility but how many here have been randomly arrested in the street? I don’t think I’ve ever been stopped even in over 25 years in this country. By the way being stopped is not that same as being arrested - although that seems to vary by ethnicity.

But that aside, reporting for work should probably not be your first concern. You can do that once you posted bail. If it’s a misdemeanor, you could be released in a couple of hours once all the paperwork is done so may not be much impact that you cannot take care of yourself. It might take quite a bit longer if you refuse to answer until your lawyer is present though. If you’re arrested for felony that requires court appearance, that’ll take longer.

In that case, I’d contact my spouse/trusted friend asking them to get my lawyer on it. Then spouse/friend can also contact work as needed.


I wonder, when people say “my lawyer”, do they literally mean they know exactly what number to call?

I’d be calling my spouse and relying on her to figure out how to get one of those “my lawyer” thingies.


I would ask my wife (̶o̶n̶c̶e̶ ̶s̶h̶e̶ ̶s̶t̶o̶p̶p̶e̶d̶ ̶c̶r̶y̶i̶n̶g̶)̶ to call my lawyer (not criminal). I would expect him to know which criminal lawyer to call/refer.

And no, criminal lawyer isn’t redundant. :wink:


They can hold you for as long as they’re legally allowed to hold you, regardless of anything you may have to do. Letting you get your affairs in order is going to be a courtesy they extend, based on if you’ve cooperated or if they think you need an incentive. And most advice on what to do is going to be predicated on if you really are guilty or not.

The one incident I was involved in (briefly detained), I flat out said “Look, I’m not who/what you think I am, but I know you gotta do your job so just wake me up when you’re done.” It could’ve easily be dragged out into an all-night/next-day thing. I really dont know if they concluded that I was innocent or not, but my taking a nap in the middle of their investigating (and not doing it to avoid answering questions) made it pretty clear I knew they werent going to find anything regardless, so they wrapped it up and moved on pretty quickly.


Funny. In all my crime novels, the guilty sleep like a baby, while the innocent pace around all night :slight_smile:


Oh, I’m not claiming that I slept well later that night. It took days before I got past the anxiety of them maybe coming back and what could happen. Like I said, I have no idea if they actually “cleared” me, or if my demeaner just made it clear that any potential evidence there may have been was long gone. But either way, at the time it avoided the financial impacts of a drawn out detainment/investigation/arrest that was asked about in the OP.

It might be helpful for any knowledgeable folks to post possible scenarios to be worried about relative to the OP.

My only experience is speeding tickets in my younger years where I was guilty… (Be nice and don’t argue is what I learned after a few tries…) Outside of that was a traffic stop. They were looking for a stolen car from another state. My car matched but had in-state plates. It took maybe 20 minutes for them to confirm the car was not right, clear me etc. I remember having to lay down on the pavement which wasn’t pleasant but I am pretty sure there were no handcuffs involved. I did think it was odd that it took so long to determine it was not the out of state car but I guess people change plates…


I worked 7 years as a patrolman, so I can answer most of these questions. Keep in mind, every state and localitty do things differently, so my experience may differ in your locality.

Generally speaking, your “phone call” comes after you are booked into some sort of detention facility. That generally comes after the police are done talking to you. If you want the police to stop questioning you, definitely tell them, “I want to talk to my lawyer.” But they are almost never going to give you a phone to do that at that point. That’s movie stuff. Any good criminal lawyer will NOT let you talk to the police without having talked to you first. And if you have any involvement that could come back at you, the lawyer will need to talk to the district attorney first to see about a deal. Since the district attorney isn’t involved at the early stages, your lawyer won’t be showing up to help you out the night you’re taken into custody. There is literally nothing your lawyer can do for you on day one. That’s all movie stuff where everything happens quickly. In real life, its slow as molasses.

Back to your phone call. Your phone call should be to a person that can get your affairs in order while you are locked up. If you were granted bail, it should be to someone that has access to your money or someone that will bail you out, or someone that will take care of an arrangement with a bail bondsman. If you weren’t granted bail, it should be to someone who can find you an attorney and get the ball rolling for your bail hearing (your bail determination at your initial booking is never final). You can worry about work later - not during your initial call. If you are held long enough that you missed work, you probably will need to tell your boss that you have legal issues because it is likely that you will have to miss work in the future to handle court appearances in person anyway. Better to give them your side of it than have them wondering and snooping and getting a different side. If you know you will get fired just for being arrested, might as well avoid telling them if there is a slim chance you could get things taken care of without them finding out. The police don’t make a hobby of telling people’s bosses about legal trouble. But obviously if its high profile enough, there is the chance of the news reporting on your arrest. As for YOU being required to tell your boss you were arrested - there is no across the board law on that. If it’s part of your employee handbook and you don’t do it, they can clearly fire you if you are an at will employee. If you work in certain professions, there might be some legal requirements in your state. I.E. some school teachers might have to report certain arrests. Or some CDL holders might have to report some traffic violations. You should know that about your own profession.

I’m not following what you’re trying to say here.

I would hope that people who already have their own criminal defense attorney probably don’t have any of these questions as they are likely familiar with the process, lol. However, if you’ve been through a divorce and used a decent sized firm, they likely have someone that wasn’t your divorce attorney, but does practice criminal law, so for a lot of people, that is probably “their lawyer” or is a good place to start. My mom was a paralegal at a high end family law firm and they had a lawyer on staff that was sometimes called to be a substitute judge and had won a state court of appeals murder case. I know that is the dude I’d eventually call if were ever thrown in the pokey.

While what you wrote isn’t incorrect by any means, cops and detectives generally don’t hang out with suspects/detainees any longer than they need to. Any cop that hears “I’m not talking to you until you let me … (get my affairs in order)” and actually lets you do it, is a cop that has not been trained on how to interview (interrogate) suspects. So do NOT bet on that ever happening. You’re either going to do what he says or he’s done with you and he’s going to book you and leave you at the jail while he goes to write his report. The only people I ever let linger were juveniles. That was because the process was so much different for them than it was for adults and there really was a bunch of downtime while they were in custody waiting to see if they were going to get booked or taken home. But like you pointed out, if they were jerks to me, I didn’t give them their cell phones to mess with while we were waiting.

YES. THIS. 100%

Any other questions, feel free to ask and I’ll answer based on my experience as a city cop.


Of course, I’m sure making demands doesnt go over well, that wasnt what I was trying to imply. I’m thinking more about someone fretting about something (“I’m supposed to pick up my kid from school in a hour”), maybe you throw them a bone and let them take care of it. And, [I think] obviously, it’d depend on what you’ve arrested them for, too.


Everything is indeed highly dependent on what a person was arrested for. And making sure kids were with some sort of guardian was always a priority. But generally, most arrests don’t ever involve a stop between the place where you are taken into custody and the jail anyway. It usually had to rise to the level of an armed robbery for us to bother questioning someone in the precinct/station before booking them. But aside from keeping kids out of CPS custody, no one that we had probable cause to arrest was given a chance to take care of any pressing issues before getting booked. And even when we did have to arrange stuff for kids, it was usually us on the phone, not the perp doing anything. We’d ask him who to call and scroll through their phone to get numbers, but rarely let them do the talking or arranging.

1 Like

Considering the famous Don’t Talk to the Police video, is it ever a good idea to talk to the police even if you’re innocent?

1 Like

I think this may be a good question - you are talking about “before booking”. But how much [for lack of a better term] accomodation could be allowed after being booked?

1 Like

I’d be calling my spouse and relying on her to figure out how to get one of those “my lawyer” thingies.

This is probably closer to what would happen for me. Only lawyers we’ve used before were all for estate and patent law issues so probably not the right ones for most cases where we’d get arrested. But I’d hope my spouse would figure things out about who to call based on what I’m booked for.

I’m curious how many people accept to unlock their phones for the cops to do all that.

Personally, I cannot imagine providing police with pin to unlock my phone while in custody as it sounds a bit much like an invitation to dig up through my stuff to find evidence on me. Maybe I’m overthinking things but it does not sound prudent to give the cops access to my contacts, messages, emails, etc even if I’m innocent. I’d rather just tell them the number of whom to call without unlocking my phone for any reason. Main reason not to use biometric unlocks too.


I worked for the police department and our jail was run by the Sheriff’s department. So I honestly have no idea what happens to folks after they are booked into jail. I can’t even speak in generalizations. I can only assume it depends on the policies of the particular jail you’re booked into. I’m sure they don’t bend over backwards to let you arrange your release on bail, but I doubt they make an effort to hold you any longer than they have to. I’m sure you don’t get unlimited time to make calls (because the phone is shared and you can’t access it when you’re in your cell), but I have no idea how often or how many opportunities you actually get to be on the phone.

Well of course, if you know the number, you don’t need to worry about it. Not sure why this is an argument against biometrics though. I’ve had people that needed numbers out of their phone that didn’t want to give me the code to unlock it so I held it against their finger while they were handcuffed to unlock it, got the number, and then the phone relocked itself. Seems like an argument in favor of biometrics to me.

It’s been many years since I watched that video. I could probably talk to every single point the guy made and for most of them have an instance where you should consider doing the opposite of what he said. But as a general rule, if the police are questioning you after a crime has been committed and you are a suspect, you shouldn’t talk. If you are innocent and can present some sort of defense at the scene that you are nearly positive will eliminate you as a suspect, you should definitely consider talking to the police to clear your name. Especially if you believe that if you don’t, you’re going to get arrested. For example, you’re riding your bike. Cop pulls up, stops you, tells you to get off the bike because someone just called to say you have their stolen bike. Complainant saw you on a make/model bike identical to his that was stolen yesterday 2 blocks away and called the cops. If you have a copy of the receipt for that bike in your walmart app, it would be dumb of you to stay silent and not show the cop the receipt. If you don’t, you’re likely to get arrested for possession of stolen property based on the guy’s claim that it’s his bike and that he reported it stolen yesterday.

Also, I put after a crime has been committed in italics because it is an important qualifier. I can’t count the number of times where I showed up to a call and determined a crime wasn’t actually committed even though someone thought there was and called us. If both the complainant and suspect are on scene when the police arrive, and the suspect refuses to say anything, the police essentially have to go with what the complainant says (as long as there isn’t obvious physical evidence around that contradicts it). If the suspect also gives his side of the story, now the police have to weigh both sides. There have been countless times that I have determined I couldn’t arrest someone because it was a “he said/she said” type situation (domestic violence is its own animal, so don’t read into my “he said/she said” categorization) and the person claiming victimhood was less credible than the suspect.

I could talk for quite some time on the question of “should you talk to the police?” My short answer is, in general, if you’re innocent, you probably should, but be careful what you say. If you’re guilty, you probably shouldn’t, unless you know that the other person is in danger of losing their credibility with the police and you think you can be believed as being the more credible one. The moment you lie to the police and we know you’re lying, you lose credibility. Don’t make any obvious lies and you might actually get away with something if the victim was lying and we caught it. Also, if you know the police officer already has the goods on you whether you confess or not, and it’s the sort of crime/infraction where the police could show some discretion, being apologetic/remorseful doesn’t usually hurt (unless you plan on getting an attorney and pleading not guilty and hoping to get off on a technicality - then you don’t want to have confessed).


His point is that the police don’t have to tell you anything and they can and will lie to you to get you to talk. They can tell you that you’re not a suspect even if you are.

The cops will tell you a crime occurred in another town. So you’ll tell them you were 30 miles away at the time. The cops lied about the location and you just told them you were near the actual location.

An interesting example, but I don’t think a real one. Bikes have serial numbers. I don’t even think you can report an unregistered bike stolen (registration involves giving the serial # to the city). Would you even be able to arrest someone with so little to go on without checking the serial number?

So you’re saying that a “he said/she said” is better than “he said/she remained silet”? :smile:

Since when are bicycles registered? And I dont know about high-end models, but I’m pretty sure most dont have serial numbers.

And…? You were wherever you were, you cant really change that after the fact. Unless you plan to lie about being where you were, which would be a different discussion altogether…

Yes, I think the whole “the cops can lie to you” thing is overblown to begin with (maybe Meed can comment). But when they do, it’s to trip up a guilty person, not entrap an innocent person. Your example makes no sense, because the guilty person would know where the crime occured regardless of what the cop says.