Legal FAQ Resource
My Friend or Loved One Is Mentally Ill and Just Got into Criminal Trouble. What Do I Do?
A. FIND OUT WHERE THE PERSON IS.
Find out what county the person is in and if they are in custody.
Find out what the arresting agency is.
Find out what they are charged with and what the bond amount is.
Find out if they have been appointed counsel.
Find out where their case has been assigned.
B. Contact the jail's medical section and let them know what medication the person regularly takes and ask to help them by getting the necessary documents. They will allow you to talk to them regardless of whether there is a signed consent.
C. Contact the Appointed Counsel if there is one or find a good criminal defense lawyer, if one has not been appointed, and vet them for their experience with mentally ill defendants. If they are good, they will know the resources that the system has available.
Even so, it never hurts to make suggestions such as these resources: Mental Health Probation, Mental Health Diversion, Insanity Provisions, Fitness Provisions, and Mental Illness as a Sentencing Mitigating Factor.
D. Remember, very rarely if ever, are charges just dropped because you want them dropped. Don't look like a fool or you will lose credibility with the prosecutor, defense lawyer, or judge.
E. Go to Court if you can to help to reassure your loved one. Even the most stable person will feel abandoned if in custody. Seeing you in court will help them not feel lost. They may need you as a character witness.
F. Visit them. Learn the rules of the institution before you go, then go. You don't need to create a fuss when you go or get busted. Report to the Lawyer any changes in their effect or mental status.
G. Help the person with their post-jail plan. They will need help in deciding where to live and what programs to go to. Even if they are acquitted, they will need your help afterward or they will end up in crisis or in the criminal justice system again.
DUI Question: To Blow or Not to Blow? (Over 21 ONLY)
The answer varies from lawyer to lawyer, though some things are straightforward. The most obvious one is that you shouldn't drink and drive. I mean it! Don't do it! Ever. Nothing spells the loss of a job faster than not being able to get to it because you can't get a ride because you don't drive anymore. Some police departments take the car when you get arrested, too. If you are not a US citizen, DUIs can help get you kicked out of the country. If you like to fish or hunt in Canada, they can say we don't want you, when you try to go. A DUI arrest, let alone a conviction or supervision, can have a devastating effect on your life. Don't forget the obvious: you could get killed, kill someone else, or cause property to get damaged. So, don't drink if there is a chance that you will have to drive before it is out of your system. Okay, I got that out of the way.
This is for the in-station breath alcohol testing. It is also written for people over 21 years of age. Beyond that, you must look at the situation. One big question is: How bad do you need to drive?
If you are above a .08, you will lose your license for at least 6 months if you are over 21 and a first time DUI arrestee. If you take the test, and you are dirty, you will only lose your license via a suspension for 6 months. You might have a chance at your summary suspension hearing, but by that point, you will already have your license suspended. You could also lose that hearing anyhow. But, if you have a private lawyer, that hearing gives the lawyer a chance to cross-examine the police personnel on all the things they did, and maybe that can build a better case for you at the trial. This can make a huge difference in a borderline case.
If you refuse the breath test, they will take your license via a suspension for 12 months if you are over 21 and a first time DUI arrestee. You might have a chance at your summary suspension hearing, but by that point, you will already have your license suspended. You could also lose that hearing anyhow. For people who badly need to drive, AND they are a first time DUI arrestee, this consequence is overwhelming and makes it a bad idea to refuse.
You should not blow if there is an injury to another person or death. In that case, the consequences of a high BAC reading on the machine is usually having bad evidence for a case that will likely send you to prison. For most of us, that is a lot worse than having a suspended license.
If you are already suspended or revoked, you should not blow unless you KNOW you will pass (like maybe 1 or no drinks). It will only make really bad evidence for you in a case that will send you to jail or prison.
Obviously, don't drink and drive. Ever (as they say on Mythbusters). If you are going to drink, designate a driver who does not drink. Everyone should put at least one cab company on their cell phone. I really like American Taxi if you are in northern Illinois. No, I don't use them for drinking bouts. But I've used them to get me and my family to the Airport and home from a car breakdown. They are polite, and they take plastic.
What Happens If They Decide to Charge Me?The police are either going to let you post bond (sometimes even on your signature only—it is called a recognizance bond or “I-Bond”) or they will transport you to a bond court which is typically at the Criminal Court Building for the county you are charged in. When you know, it is time to call your family or close friends to let them know where you are being taken to, and when the bond hearing is. Ask them to raise some money. Ask them to call a lawyer who practices Criminal Law so you have representation that can speak up for you in Bond Court so a reasonable bond can be set. If you are in Northeast Illinois, you can ask me to be your lawyer. My name is Thomas Eric Ost and my number is (708) 554-4199">(708) 554-4199. Yes, I go to Bond Courts, and if I am awake, I answer my phone 24 hours a day if need be. I am a very light sleeper.
How Do I Stop the Police from Badgering and Coercing Me into Talking?A: Tell them politely, “Sir/Madam, I do not want to make any statements. I do not want to write anything or make any oral or video statements. I want to remain silent and exercise my 5th Amendment Rights to remain silent. I want a lawyer before saying or doing anything else. “Since it really helps to name the lawyer, if you are in Northeast Illinois, you can ask me to be your lawyer. My name is Thomas Eric Ost and my number is (708) 554-4199">(708) 554-4199.
What Do I Do First?Stop talking anything about the facts of the case and stop writing anything about the facts of the case for the police, store cops, security people or anyone else EXCEPT A LAWYER THAT HAS BEEN RETAINED FOR OR BY YOU OR A LAWYER APPOINTED TO REPRESENT YOU. Anyone else probably is not “your friend” at that moment and EVERYTHING you do can and will most likely be used against you. Even your friends can't keep quiet if they are subpoenaed to testify against you. Your mom and dad also can't keep quiet if they are subpoenaed to testify against you. Sometimes even your lawfully wedded spouse might have to testify against you (if they are considered a victim). Rarely do people ever talk their way out of something when they are sitting in a police lockup or in front of a bond court judge. So mum is the word; DO NOT MAKE STATEMENTS.
I've Been Busted! What do I do?Before it ever happens, have the name of a lawyer who practices Criminal Law in your phone at all times. If you are in Northeast Illinois, you can ask me to be your lawyer. My name is Thomas Eric Ost and my number is (708) 554-4199">(708) 554-4199. Save my number in your phone now!