NY’s Rules Have Changed For Making a Call From Jail

As of March 2021, Monroe County changed the rules for making a call from jail, so that the first call is no longer free. Because officials overcharged inmates for years and there is so much money in the telephone trust fund, the county now gives inmates up to seventy-five minutes a month of free phone calls. However, the news is not all good. As outlined below, these calls are usually not private.

Ideally, unsentenced inmates will be out of jail long before they use their seventy-five minutes of phone calls. As outlined below, several early jail release options are available, even if the defendant was charged with a violent felony. Jail release and contact with the free world are essential for both legal and health reasons. A Rochester defense lawyer helps make sure these needs are met.

Who to Call When You’re Behind Bars

Most people make three phone calls as soon as they are processed. Initially, they call a friend or loved one to let this person know they are okay. Next, they call a lawyer or legal professional they know, who may make arrangements for prompt jail release. Most likely, however, this legal professional will refer the caller to a more experienced Rochester defense lawyer. Since the defendant probably has at least an hour of free calls left, there is ample opportunity to ask the lawyer about their:

  • Experience: Years of experience are obviously important. However, this figure could also be misleading. Many Rochester defense attorneys resolve almost all their cases by plea bargaining. These resolutions are common. But, you do not want an advocate who looks for the easy way out.
  • Dedication: Most people get referrals because the lawyers they know are not full-time Rochester defense attorneys. Criminal defense requires a commitment to individual rights. It’s a good idea for defendants to avoid lawyers who do not have this commitment.
  • Location: Since the best attorney/client relationships are partnerships, most defendants should have a close-to-home or work lawyer. Telephone and Zoom conferences are better than nothing, but they cannot substitute for face-to-face meetings.

If you cannot immediately connect with a good Rochester defense lawyer, it’s usually best to call a bail bond agent. There are usually plenty of available options. There is generally little difference between companies in terms of experience and price. Since their only involvement is getting you out of jail, one is pretty much as good as another.

What to Say When Making a Call from Jail

If you talk to anyone other than your lawyer, be careful what you say because the conversation is recorded, and state prosecutors have access to these transcripts. Typically, a Rochester defense attorney becomes “your lawyer” when the two of you have agreed about specific terms and money has exchanged hands.

So, keep these conversations very general. Say nothing about the specifics of your case. Friends and family members usually aren’t interested in these things anyway.

Technically, officials are not supposed to record conversations between you and your lawyer. But it happens. Earlier this year, New York City officials blamed a “clerical error” when over 1,500 attorney-client conversations were recorded and transcribed. That excuse might or might not be legitimate.

On a related note, once you are out of jail, attorney-client communications are not automatically private. Sometimes, the defendant does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. If Sam is on the phone with his lawyer at a restaurant, someone could easily eavesdrop, so the conversation may not be private. The same thing could apply if Sam and his mom meet with Sam’s lawyer, even if his mom is paying the bill.

Reach Out to a Diligent Attorney

There are some rules to follow when you make calls from jail. These changes might be permanent. For a free consultation with an experienced Rochester defense lawyer, contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi. After-hours visits are available.

The information in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter.

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