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5 Things you must do if you want bail

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Features Article: The 5 important things you must do to get bail.

When you are suspected of committing a crime and the police come knocking to arrest you, it is a very stressful time. There are a number of things you need to do, if you want bail. There is also an entire host of things you should never do if you want to be released on bail.

Some of the issues seems very logical and need no explanation. However we encounter these issues in practice, every single day, as unbelievable as it may seem.

1. Give your real names – the same as on your ID

It goes without saying that you should give accurate information in this regard. Give your real names to the police. If you have aliases – then give them too. The police are used to dealing with people who do not give their real names. This happens to them every day. They have systems and procedures in place to verify that your name and surname is correct. Trust me , they will check it.

Once you have given accurate information it can always be argued that you co-operated with the police and played open cards. We can then say that you did not try to deceive the police, regardless of what they might find under your real names.

People give false names for a whole host of reasons. Varying from there are warrants of arrest out on their real names; to they have a list of previous convictions against their name and much more.

Warrants can be sorted out – do not lie about your name. A lie will be much, much more difficult to sort out.

DO: Give your real names with all known aliases.

2. Give the address and contact person with phone number of the residence you actually live at

We all live somewhere. Even if you move around a lot, there is an address that you are found at most of the time and that you regard as your primary residence. The people at that address know you, and will verify that you indeed stay there. The contact person and his or her phone number should also be provided to the police for verification. Make it easy for the police to verify your address. This will help you to get bail easily.

This is very important. The police are going to verify the address you provide. The police are going to speak to the people there. They are going to ask when last you visited the premises. The police are also going to ask for how long have you been living there.

Giving a correct address tells the court and the police that you will be easy to find and will not disappear once released on bail. It goes without saying that giving a false address will give precisely the opposite impression to the court and police. It will create the impression that you want to escape and not stand trial, resulting in your bail being opposed by the prosecutor.

DO: Give the address you reside at, with an easily contactable person who also stays there.

3. Co-operate with the police when they arrest you

Cooperation with the police means that you provide accurate personal information for purposes of being booked and processed by the police. Going with the police when they take you to the police station to be booked. Not resisting the arrest. Not assaulting the police officers. Not making a big hoo-ha when the police come to arrest you.

It does not mean that you must admit to anything or sing like a canary when the police ask you questions in relation to the crime. You do have constitutional rights and should insist that a criminal attorney be present when they want to interrogate you in respect of the crime itself.

The information you should provide freely for purposes of booking under arrest are things like names, addresses, id numbers, fingerprints and DNA sample. In respect of the crime and any statement in that regard, you must always insist that your criminal attorney is present before making any statement.

DO: Cooperate freely with the police for purposes of booking the arrest.

4. Ask your family of friend to phone a bail attorney

We often find that a suspect, who has been arrested, is totally shocked that he did not receive his mandatory one phone call from the police. Firstly, I need to say that the phone call is a courtesy in South Africa. There is really no such right recorded anywhere. This courtesy is often not granted by police. The result is that the arrested person then sits in prison for days with no family member even knowing where he is finding himself. Since we now know you will probably not get your phone call, we can prepare adequately.

At the time of your arrest – ask a family member or friend to contact your bail attorney or criminal attorney to assist you. Doing so will ensure that a criminal attorney comes to the police cells and attends to you and whatever needs you may have. Being locked up with nobody taking care of your well-being is a scary prospect.

DO: Ask someone to phone your bail attorney, informing your bail attorney which police station you are at.

5. Prepare an alternative address

Sometimes an incident occurs at your place of residence at which you are arrested. This often happens in domestic violence matters. In this instance it could be something like an assault. If the complainant in this case also resides at the same address at which you reside, the court will be reluctant to release you on bail back to the same address where the complainant then also stays. This reluctance is due to the fear for possible intimidation of the complainant.

In such instances the police may insist that you give an alternate address at which you can stay until the case is finalized.

DO: In cases where you and complainant stay together, obtain alternate address with an easily contactable person.

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