What To Do If You're Arrested On A Drug Charge

Being arrested on a drug charge is a scary thing, especially if you've never had any experience with the legal system. It's understandable to be off your guard and vulnerable. However, what you say and do during those first minutes and hours after your arrest can greatly affect the outcome of your case.

1. Retain counsel. Your first thought may be that a lawyer is too expensive, especially if you feel that you're not guilty of the charges. However, guilty or not, the consequences of most drug charges are too great to act as your own counsel. Most drug charges carry large fines and at least some jail time. Being convicted of a felony drug charge can affect your ability to get a job in the future, get government assistance, get approved for a loan or an apartment or even, in some states, your right to vote.

A good criminal lawyer knows the ins and outs of the court system, is acquainted with the judge and his staff and knows the nuances of the law as it pertains to your case. These aren't things you can pick up by reading a book.

2. Don't talk. The temptation is great, when you've been arrested, to tell your side of the story. However, this is really, if ever, a good idea. The police mean it when they tell you anything you say can and will be used against you. Better to simply say that your lawyer has advised you not to answer any questions. Talking about your case to other people who are jailed with you is also a bad idea. It's not uncommon for police to place "snitches" in the jail population to listen for things that might be of interest to the police.

3. Ask for bail to be set. After you're arrested, you'll have to stay in jail at least until you are arraigned in front of a judge. In most cases, unless he or she feels you are a threat to the community, the judge will set bail. This is the amount required for you to be released from jail. It "guarantees' that you will return to court for your trial or next hearing.

When your case is finished, you'll get the bail money back if you appear at all of your court-mandated appointments and court dates. Fail to appear and you forfeit the bail money. In many areas, bail bondsmen will post your bail for you for 10 percent of the bail amount. When you appear in court, the bail is returned to them and they keep your 10 percent as their fee.

Being arrested isn't a pleasant experience for anyone. Help your situation end as positively as possible by calling a lawyer, staying silent and asking for bail. For more information, click here.