We’re just getting started, but here’s some info you should know if you’ve been arrested!
This message is from Fists Up Legal, the independent collective of lawyers, law students, legal workers, and activists who are working closely with the National Lawyers Guild to provide legal support for the Black Live Matter actions in the Bay Area. You are receiving this message because we have a record that you were arrested, and we wanted to give you a few updates. First off, thanks for standing up against police violence!
What We Do
We’re the folks who have answering the legal support hotline and dispatching the legal observers in the lime-green hats. We have also been recruiting NLG volunteer lawyers to work on getting those being held in jail on more serious charges released, and to work on their cases. We are also trying to provide representation to folks who were mass arrested and cited for generic minor charges, and are willing to be part of a group defense.
What Happens Next?
- Please check your citation for a court date. This date is called an arraignment, during which the District Attorney can formally bring charges against you. Note – the DA decides your official charges, not the cops who arrested you. The DA could decide not to charge you at all, or could give you different charges than those the police put on your citation.
- We probably won’t know the DA’s decisions about charges prior to the initial court date. Typically, the majority of people arrested at demonstrations are not charged, or if you are charged, the charges are often reduced. If the DA does file charges, we will try to schedule a future court date and discuss strategies for your defense. If charges are not filed, they have a year to bring misdemeanor charges against you.
- Sometimes the city will send people info directly from the DA’s office about their case (referrals to community courts, notice that it was reduced to traffic court, etc.) If you should receive any notices in the mail, let us know! Do not respond to any of these notices without getting legal advice.
- It’s your choice to either go with our volunteer attorneys, hire your own attorney, use a public defender, or represent yourself. Whichever option you choose, please keep in mind that your case is your responsibility! Remember: we’re all volunteers. We are trying to track hundreds of cases – help us out by staying on top of yours!
- A lot of people have been asking what to do about holiday travel plans. If you were part of a mass arrest, you don’t have felony charges, you are certain we have good contact information for you, and you have court on one of the following dates, you don’t need to come to your court date – we will have an attorney appear for you. (Although you are definitely encouraged to come!) Here’s the dates we know we have covered thus far:
- Alameda County (Oakland/Berkeley): 12/23/14, 12/24/14, 12/26/14, 1/6/15
- San Francisco: 12/30/14
- If you were arrested individually, in a smaller group, or have more serious charges, you will need your own individual attorney. Common ‘more serious’ misdemeanor charges include resisting (148), vandalism (594), and assault (243). The NLG is trying hard to recruit volunteer lawyers but may not be able to find lawyers for everyone, so you may need to use a public defender, or find your own attorney. If the NLG is not able to represent you, we will do our best to provide information and help the arrestees and non-NLG lawyers coordinate with each other and the public defenders.
- If you experienced police misconduct or injuries, go here for info from the NLG.
We Need Your Help!
- Make sure we have your info! We’ve setup an online form to help us collect important information from arrestees. Please fill it out if you haven’t already called us with all of your information. It’s at https://forms.fistsup.info . (Don’t worry – we absolutely will not share your info with anyone except your attorney).
- We need help getting in touch with more arrestees. We are missing contact information for many of those arrested, and we know there are folks who were arrested that we don’t know about. Please forward this email along, spread the word, and encourage folks to fill out the above form or call the hotline with their info. (We prefer folks fill out the form to keep to hotline free).
- If you are able, please help us continue the legal support work by donating to the National Lawyers Guild. The attorneys, hotline workers, and legal observers are all working for free, but it costs money to accept collect calls from jail, print out know your rights materials, send out bright green hats to legal observers, and brew coffee for our overnight hotline shifts! Checks can be made payable to the NLG with “Demo Committee” in the memo line and sent to NLGSF, 558 Capp Street, SF, CA 94110; or click on the “donate” button here.