What Hollywood gets wrong about arrests and bail bonds

What Hollywood gets wrong about arrests and bail bonds 1

The main job of a tv show or movie production is to entertain, so while arrests and even entire law shows exist, they are going to gloss over the more monotonous parts to help the story along. For this reason, there are some aspects of arrests and even bail bonds that have turned into untrue or at least only half true stereotypes. Here are some of the most common.

You only get one phone call in jail after getting arrested

We have seen over and over in tv shows and movies that you are only given one phone call from jail so you better hope you call the right person and that they answer. This would put a lot of pressure on anyone but the fact of the matter is that you can have as many calls as you need but only the first one is free. The jail should let you make the first call at no cost but you can absolutely make subsequent calls. The only catch is that those calls would be made collect and your loved one will have to accept and pay for the charges.

You automatically get assigned a public defender if you want one

When even the Miranda rights that the police officer has to say tell you that you have a right to a lawyer even if you can’t afford one, you take that as truth but unfortunately, it just isn’t that simple. In order to be assigned a public defender, you actually have to apply for one. This is due to people who are fully capable of hiring lawyers just trying to avoid the extra cost and saying they need representation. For this reason, an application has to be completed that details resources and what income bracket you are in to determine if you are eligible for a public defender and at what cost. That’s right; they aren’t always free either but are most likely at least very subsidized.

Bail is denied all the time for any reason

Media often makes it seem like defendants are constantly denied bail but in truth, it is quite uncommon. First of all, most crimes tend to be pretty minor in the scheme of things and the majority of defendants are not multi-millionaires so there is little reason why a judge would feel the need to deny bond. In fact, if the defendant has no previous record, there is probably a better chance of them being released on personal recognizance than paying bond at all. This is not to say however that bonds are never denied. It just tends to be for more severe crimes where public safety is in question or where there is an especially high flight risk like if someone is a billionaire and the charges are especially grave.

You can get bailed out at three in the morning

It’s extremely common to see a show where a loved one runs to the jail as soon as they find out a family member or friend has been arrested but in most cases the loved one who got arrested will be spending the night in jail and maybe even a couple of nights. This is because it can take up to 48 hours for a bond hearing to occur. After this, paperwork must be filed but the departments are not open 24 hours so it may not even get filed until the next day anyways. Overall, there is always some grain of truth in how things are portrayed but it’s important to note that especially in media, they are going to go for a more streamlined version of things that takes out key pieces of information that make the situation a true version of reality.  


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