Stupid arrest / jail questions

  1. Do holding cells have sinks? The character had a bloody nose and really needs to wash his face. Or will a cop take him to the bathroom or something?

  2. For that matter, how far away are cops from the holding cell? Can they see into it or not?

  3. What kind of stupid advice would other people in the holding cell give? I know there’s that ‘sovereign citizen’ thing, which I’m not going to use because it hurts my brain.

  4. Different story, more involved question. Gang leader, I’ll call Mask to avoid confusion, leads a bunch of goons to massacre another gang, because the other gang’s boss is the father of Mask’s guest and Mask finds out that her father and his men abused her in every possible way. What sort of punishment would they normally get and what could it get plea bargained down to? Total deaths are about 40. There are about 30 men being charged with being involved. The other gang was not armed and was well on their way to being drunk when Mask and his men came in. (In story, they can’t get a jury picked because ‘they sexually abused a 13-year-old girl? Ohhh, and they’re the main source of child porn and prostitution in the city? Yeah, let’s just let Mask and his men off’) I realize I’m probably doing a total CSI and screwing this up utterly. I don’t care if the goons get the death penalty. I just need Mask and two of his men to escape with their lives.

I will probably have more as I finish typing up what I’ve written today.

  1. I think I’ve come up with the charges for WR. This is all in a bar fight - he was getting pummeled by six guys, drew a knife, stabbed and killed one, cut open one and killed him, stabbed another, and kicks another. Would two counts manslaughter (the deaths), one count aggravated assault (the stabbing), and four counts of assault (the general beating of people) be correct? Or would it just be one count assault?

  2. With the charges above would WR get bail and what would be a reasonable amount for it?

Thanks y’all

Well, I’ve been in 4 but each one has been different. (look, 2 of 'em was when I was hitchhiking. One was when I was young and dumb…well, dumber at any rate.)

Every one is different. For the most part, however, they’re all large rooms that you stay in for 6-24 hours before you can see a judge.

No sinks. Thirst is one of the more annoying aspects. If they offer you a meal, take it for no other reason than to save the milk or juice for later.

Nobody ever talks about why they’re there…except folks who are scared. Those kids tend to “brag” a bit…and nobody there buys it. It’s amazingly quiet. Everyone withdraws into their head. 3/4 of the folks there are drunk. Everybody is sleepy, since few people are arrested during the day.

There are a surprising number of repeat customers, who know the drill and just sit back. Unless you see an old friend, you normally don’t strike up a conversation. You won’t hear much in the way of advice. The waiting game aspect is pretty tough. Is anyone out there trying to bail you out? What time is it? Most places don’t have clocks. What happens tomorrow? There’s nobody there to let you know what’s going on.

If you’re ever arrested, make sure you’re wearing multiple layers of clothing. Most of the time you’re laying on the floor since all the benches or seats are taken. Using an extra shirt as a pillow makes all the difference.

You don’t just get one call. There are payphones there to make collect calls. Today it’s an issue since cell phones don’t accept them.

Violent guys who commit a crime like murder are kept in solitary and have no contact with gen pop. In your story, with a homicide involved, I imagine he would be segregated. He might have a sink, but I doubt it.

My experience is only with 2 local police stations, but I’ll try to answer.

  1. Both times the cell had a combination toilet/sink. A stainless steel unit, which is push button operated.

  2. The cells have a big sliding door with a thick plastic window. There was a camera bubble in the cell both times, and one had a call button and speaker. I’m pretty sure someone is supposed to be monitoring the cells at all time.

  3. I’m sure in the city they have communal holding cells, but here they don’t. If you aren’t allowed bail by a magistrate they can ship you to county jail to await arraignment.

  4. I have no idea.

I spent the night in a jail cell in Manhattan before being sentenced the next morning at a community court, I believe it was. There was a combination sink / toilet with one knob delivering cold water with abysmal pressure behind it. There was a wooden bed perhaps six feet long and two and a half feet wide protruding from the wall. Other than that there was nothing. I was not under direct observation, the hallway with the cells in it ran off of a main room. Perhaps an officer stationed at the end of the hallway could see down into it, but I had complete privacy for the time I was in there.

Thanks everybody. Hopefully someone with some more professional knowledge can answer the other questions when they notice it. :slight_smile:

One minor answer to a side-question/observation in your number 5.

Assault is putting someone in fear for their safety. You can assault someone without touching them or harming them. Battery is the “physical” part of the crime. Typically, if you are guilty of battery, you are also guilty of assault. That’s where the “assault and battery” charges come from. It is certainly possible to commit assault without also committing battery, though. In fact, I’d bet most assaults are not batteries.

Wait, the character led a gang to kill 40 unarmed men? We’re talking 40 counts of premeditated murder? Best case scenario for him, he’s in prison for the rest of his natural life, and any state that has the death penalty, it’s a needle in the arm. No way anybody’s going to plead this down to less than life without parole. Mask’s a dead man.

Also, WR is a different person from Mask, right? What state is WR in?

Assault and battery then. I’m just trying to figure out how many counts.

Oh good. That’s what I was going for. Not the death part, but life without parole. The gang really did deserve it - they were all horrible people who liked to do horrible things to non-horrible people.

Well it’s set in a fictional country in a fictional world, but it’s kind of a mix of New York and California. And yes, WR is different from Mask.

Sorry to double post, but thought of another one.

  1. What do the police do when they can’t handcuff someone’s hands behind the back? Mask has to walk with a cane. I’m currently having the cops handcuff him in front and cover him with a taser. (I’m not terribly worried about accuracy on this one, but I’m curious)

Ok, but you’re still not allowed to murder horrible people.

If it’s a fictional country in a fictional world, it can have whatever criminal code and judicial system you want it to have, and jail cells can look like whatever you want them to look like.

Ours have the combination stainless steel sink toilet that was mentioned before. Our holding cells are continously monitored by video. Except for females who can not be on video so another female must monitor in person. Also when put in the cells the prisoners must be put in paper suits and all personal items taken. The cells are only used when they will be there for an extended period of time. That does not happen too often. Usually they are instead cuffed to the wall where they can be observed both directly and on camera. Generally they are only detained until their paperwork is completed and they are released on a summons, bailed out, or transferred to another agency.

You use a waist chain. It’s a normal chain that goes around the waist and is then padlocked in place. You lock it so there’s about 12-18 inches of extra chain at the front with a ring in it. You put the handcuffs through the ring and lock them on the wrists. Then there’s a hard plastic box (called a black box) that locks over the ring. When you’re done, your prisoner has his hands secured in front of his body - he can do things like sign his name or use a drinking fountain or urinal but he can’t swing his fists. You then put on leg shackles which limit the prisoner to walking.

You can tell people who have been in prison because this is a common thing in prison. They know the way it works and they don’t need to be told how to move so the officer can put the chains on. A first timer who hasn’t been restrained before is going to need a lot more direction.

You can use a waist chain on somebody who only has one hand. You just attach one end of the handcuffs to the available wrist and the other end directly to the waist chain. Whether you do so depends on how dangerous you think your prisoner is. If you think it’s safe, you’ll restrain one hand and let him use a cane with the other. If you think he’ll be a problem, you restrain him normally and put him in a wheelchair - you don’t let somebody who’s assaultive carry a cane in a loose arm.

Actually, while that is a common set of definitions, there are different definitions in some states. Here in New York, for example, there is no such crime as “assault and battery”, or even “battery”, and “assault” requires physical injury. The “assault” description you’re using above would usually result in a “menacing” charge in NYS.

If the story is set in a specific state, it’d be a good idea to research that point, googling ‘statename penal law assault’ or something similar.

I’ve been in three suburban holding cells (touring every time). One old, two newer. They all had metal toilets and sinks. The old room had a really crappy bucket with a hole type of toilet and the sink was rusty, the others were stainless steel. The old one had a light bulb in a metal cage on the wall. The newer ones had lights set into the ceiling. None had chairs and they all had beds that attached to the wall, not the floor. Reinforced doors and glass block windows so you can’t see out seem standard, not the cages that you see in the movies.

Mind you, this is the suburbs were you aren’t likely to need to lock up more than one or two people at a time. When the time comes to see the judge, you are “escorted” in a police car.

My father was a city clerk and finance director so he would tour them looking for how posh other cities’ facilities were. He thought it was really hilarious to take us kids on the tour with him so we’d know where we would stay should we screw up. (Har har, very funny Dad.)

I have been in two, in widely separated jurisdictions. Both were operated by the county and served multiple municipal police forces as well as the sheriff’s department.

One was a room with concrete benches on three walls. The door opened to an administrative area and was never closed in the 8 hours or so I was there. If you needed the toilet you waited 'till a jailer walked by, got their attention, and they took you to the bathroom. At one point there was probably 6-8 of us in there. There was a lot of chat. The gang bangers never STFU. One of the guests was a double amputee in a wheel chair.

The other was a bare room with no benches, but had a toilet, no sink. No privacy with regard to the toilet. Only shared that with one other fellow. He was high on something…meth most likely. Screaming and banging on the wire meshed window the whole time. Eventually the jailers took pity on me and moved me to a small “onsey” cell.

80-90% of the jailers were sadistic job’s worths. In each case there was one who realized I was being polite, respectful, and complying with instructions and treated me decently. In one case there was a video link to a judge who decided I should be released on my own recognizance. For some reason it took 6 hours and a shift change to act on this decision.

Phones: This is a freaking nightmare.

All calls, even local, are collect. so:

You can’t call a cell phone. If you are from out of town, you can’t call the only person you know in town because his hotel won’t take a collect call.

Your wallet and cell phone are not available. Thus you must either dial from memory, or a number listed in the dead tree directory. 411 is not available…they don’t take collect calls. The jailer will let you look in a phone book, but won’t allow you to take the book to the phone across the room, nor provide a pencil or pen so you can write down the number. One of the decent ones mentioned above did write a number down for me.

One place the phone handsets had cords about 18" long, all mounted at wheelchair accessible level. Not possible to stand up straight and speak, and no chairs. I got yelled at for sitting on the floor. No reason I could see it was a problem, just another opportunity for the sadistic assholes to get some jollies making the inmates stoop.

Both of the facilities were located in rather remote areas. Upon release you are responsible for your own transportation. Cabs don’t/won’t come there. I ended up walking about 3 miles to a bus route from one.

Both facilities had a common area where there was a TV tuned to lowest denominator programming. Think Jerry Springer show. A few rows of chairs all bolted to the floor. One row was reserved for women only. So if you behaved you were rewarded by getting to watch Jerry Springer.

Thanks Kevbo and everybody. That helps a lot.

Didn’t read and don’t even know what the article is about but the picture on this page looks like what we have in our holding cells.