WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
So you have been arrested at Coachella and you think things could not get any worse. You would be wrong. How you handle what happens next determines how bad things can get. Here are some suggestions to get you through the process. In the event that the police approach you at Coachella, and certainly if and when you are arrested, do not answer any questions about the offense. Unless you have a compelling reason, you should only give your name and your date of birth and show ID if you have it. If they want to arrest you, they will arrest you. You probably cannot talk your way out of it, but you can provide a lot more evidence against you. After your arrest, you will likely be taken to a detention area near the Coachella grounds. After some preliminary processing, you will be escorted to a nearby jail in Indio for a complete booking, including fingerprinting and a booking photo. At some point after the booking process (anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours) you will either be let out on your own recognizance or you will need to post bail. Bail is typically required in the event you are being charged with a felony - or even a serious misdemeanor - or if you have prior arrests or warrants. The quickest way to post bail is by calling a bail bondsman. If you are released on your own recognizance, you will be given a citation - something that looks similar to a traffic ticket - that you will be asked to sign. This citation is a promise to appear at a future court date.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you do not need to personally appear in court as long as you hire a private attorney. Yes, it's true. Under California Penal Code Section 977(a), for the overwhelming majority of misdemeanor offenses, your attorney can appear on your behalf in court. If you go with the public defender, you will need to show up to court. Bottom line: do not blow off the court date. If you do not want to go to court, hire a private attorney.
For many drug charges, if you are a first time offender, you may be lucky and avoid jail time by qualifying for various diversion programs, which is why it is important to get experienced legal representation to make sure they ask for any alternative available. Certain cases can make a drug arrest more problematic however, resulting in possible immigration issues if you are not a United States citizen, suspension of certain professional licenses, or the loss of federal grants and/or financial aid for college or graduate school. Another reason why having an attorney who knows how to navigate this terrain is a must.