What can I do if a family member or a friend has been arrested?

1. Why was my family member arrested?

An arrest is not only a drastic event for the person concerned, but also presents relatives with challenges.

In some cases, the person arrested is allowed to inform a relative himself or herself of the arrest by telephone. The establishment of contact is usually monitored. Talks about the accusation should be avoided. The mostly short conversation should be limited to essential organizational aspects.

If the detained person contacts his lawyer directly, the lawyer can inform relatives of the person concerned.

family member or a friend has been arrested

2. Should I get my family a defense lawyer?

If you are arrested, it is advisable to contact a defender immediately.

The person concerned is often in shock after being arrested and is exposed to the superiority of the police. In this situation, short-circuit reactions can quickly occur. The person concerned believes he can free himself from this situation by what he considers to be an exonerative statement. However, a careless statement to the police often leads to suspicions which can be detrimental to the person concerned in the course of the proceedings.

After an arrest, it is not advisable to make a statement to the police or the investigating judge without consulting the defender.

The detained person may at any time request to contact his lawyer. If the detained person does not yet have a lawyer, he must be given the opportunity to choose a lawyer. The establishment of contact is to be made possible for him. As soon as an arrest warrant has been issued against the person concerned, there is a case of necessary defence (so-called compulsory defence). The court shall appoint a defence counsel for the detainee.

Relatives can help with the selection of the defender. In contrast to the person arrested, relatives can search “in peace” for an experienced specialist, for example a specialist lawyer for criminal law.

In the event of an arrest at the weekend or outside normal office hours, the criminal defence emergency call is available to the person concerned and their relatives in the Nuremberg/Fürth area. This number can be used to contact a lawyer who, in appropriate cases, will immediately visit the person concerned in person.

3. What happens after the arrest?

The person arrested shall be brought before the magistrate no later than the day after the arrest. The court decides whether the arrest warrant is maintained or revoked or suspended.

If the arrest warrant is maintained, the person concerned is taken to the remand centre.

The arrest warrant may be appealed in writing.

In many cases, a request for an oral detention test leading to a hearing before the investigating judge is more promising than a complaint of detention. The investigating judge then decides again on the continuation of the pre-trial detention after he has gained a personal impression of the accused.

4. What can a relative do to make pre-trial detention easier for the person concerned?

If the arrest warrant is upheld and the person concerned must remain in custody for the time being, relatives are faced with the task of assisting the person arrested. In this stressful life situation, relatives should keep a cool head and support the person concerned in order to make the time in the remand prison as little stressful as possible.

First, a relative should transfer some money to a separate account at the remand centre. With this money, the person concerned can purchase hygiene articles (toothbrush, shampoo, etc.), luxury items such as chocolate or cigarettes, as well as writing utensils and stamps at the prison. The account details can be obtained from the respective remand centre. Many correctional institutions, such as the Nuremberg correctional facility, also have the account data available on the Internet.

The prisoner can usually wear his own clothes and use his own bed linen (exceptions are made in many prisons, for example, when accusing him of violating the narcotics law). The relatives have the opportunity to take the prisoner’s clothes into custody.

5. How can I get in contact?

For the prisoner it is usually important to have contact with his relatives as quickly as possible. After imprisonment, the relatives must take care of a visit permit. This can also be requested by the defender from the competent investigating judge or public prosecutor. The first private visit will usually be possible one to two weeks after detention.

Defenders have the opportunity to visit the accused immediately, if necessary even in the police screening cell. By visiting a defender very early on, it is often possible to prevent ill-considered statements from setting the wrong course for further proceedings.

In pre-trial detention, the person concerned can also receive letters from his relatives that are a distraction from everyday life in prison. However, correspondence with family and friends is monitored. The transmission of letters therefore usually takes some time. The letters must not contain any information on the accusation of the crime, as otherwise confiscation is to be expected.