What do you say to someone facing prison?

A good friend of mine was recently arrested for allegedly having sex with a minor. It is a felony count that carries a maximum term of 10 years. (The alleged victim was 15, if anyone’s interested, and he is in his twenties.)

I’m still kind of in shock, so I can’t even begin to imagine how Jeff must feel. I just got off the phone with him, and from what it sounds like, he’s fucked. Also, from what other have told me, he is also possibly suicidal. However, he has not told me this himself (although I don’t think I’d expect him to.)

I want to be there for him, and be his friend, but what the hell am I supposed to say?

“Hey man, I know it seems bad, but don’t kill yourself?”

“So, is there any decent chance at avoiding prison and becoming a fucking elon and a convicted sex offender, which may haunt you the rest of your life?”

Obviously those are not real winners.

We talked about some of the usual stuff we talk about, but avoiding the subject of his arrest is like pretending there isn’t an elephant in the living room. The next time I talk to him, should I just focus on the ‘usual’ and try to cheer him up and take his mind off things? Stay away from talking about the case almost entirely? My natural instinct is to want to find out all the facts and then analyze them, but in this situation I’m pretty sure the analysis would lead to an ugly and depressing conclusion.

I also really, really don’t want to see him harm himself, and want to do whatever I can to help avoid that. I’m starting to think that a written letter might be in order, though I’m still not sure exactly what to say. I’m afraid of saying the wrong thing in what might be a delicate situation.

Any advice?


Obviously my friend should not have been involved with a girl this young, but if anyone wants yell at him for that, I request that you take it straight to the Pit and keep it out of this thread. Thanks.

I don’t think you could say something so wrong that it would make his bad situation any worse. And by talking with him, you give him the chance to learn that yes, he screwed up, but that doesn’t make him no longer your friend.

In other words, just talk. Just allow him to talk. Be there. I’m sure he needs friends, warts and all.

Maybe just listening to what he may want to talk about. Let him lead the conversation.
I would tend to ask about the case, since, as you mentionned, avoiding this topic is “like pretending there isn’t an elephant in the living room”, and I assume he might need to talk about it. I suppose that if he’s unwilling to discuss the issue, he will just say so, or you’ll feel his reluctance.
But since I never was in such a situation , my advice isn’t worth much. I tend to think the situation isn’t that different from calling a friend to whom something else really unpleasant happened.

Wow, I really wouldn’t know what to say either.

One thing you might tell him is that it’s usually not as bad as you’re initially led to believe. A friend of mine recently did some pretty messed up stuff that came very close to resulting in death and - even if the the guy lived (he did, thank god, but it was pretty close for a couple of days) - carried a maximum sentence of 15 years. I was talking to his mom and she was freaking out, crying and everything. It was pretty sad. The end result? All charges dropped, he’s not even going to court.

I don’t know the factors involving your friend having sex with a 15 year old, so I’m not judging whether or not he deserves jailtime.

I have a friend who recently got out of jail for his participation in a marijuana distribution enterprise. The profits were considerable, but in the end, the police caught him and he had to do time. I only heard about this tangentially, so when he got out, I assumed “hey, he did his time, and he knows better now.” Turns out I was one of only a few – lots of his former friends stopped talking to him either because (a) they assume his parole forbids him from hanging around users, and he could easily narc on them, (b) they’re not interested in him now that he has to work for a living, © they think he’s junkie dealer scum, or (d) they’ve forgotten him altogether. I was completely willing to pick our friendship up where we left off, talk to him about possible job opportunities with friends who wouldn’t hold his past against him, etc. – and about a month after that, he almost cried telling me how grateful he was.

So, if it becomes certain that he’s going to jail, the most important thing is to tell him that you’re still going to be around for him when he gets out, and you’ll write him while he’s in, and he can call you anytime.

Until then – assuming you’re in America – offer to help him get the best lawyer possible, if you’re in a position to do so. The conviction will make it impossible for him to ever be financially well-off, and so (like it or not) a high-end lawyer is a sound investment in his future. Ask him to consider it as a no-risk loan; you put up the money, and someday when he’s able to, he can pay it back. If he gets convicted, hey – at least you tried to help him out. In America, when you are in a gray area of the law, the lightness or darkness of that gray depends a lot on how good your lawyer is, and that’s usually a function of his or her price tag.

**What do you say to someone facing prison? **

Don’t pick up the soap.?.

My Ex is probably looking at 2-5, what’s worse is I fully expect to be called as a witness against her. I still talk to her, we don’t discuss it, but for our kids I try my best to be supportive. I also have a older sleaz…er brother that’s in and out of the state run hotel system, he never gets the kind of time his crimes would deserve. Anything could happen between now and then that might mitigate factors. An uncooperative witness, a quick plea agreement, a less than aggressive prosecutor, it’s just not the end of the world. If he’s been talking to an attorney, he should be less than suicidal, but then I’m not in the situation so HMMV.


Like everyone else said… just let him talk. The best thing you can do right now is be there for him.

If he has decent lawyer he probably won’t do any time, unless he was in some authority position over her and used that to allow him to have his way, or is mentally compromised insome way… It’s diffiicult to generate a lot of outrage about a young 20 something doing a 15 year old. The ages are too close.

They key for him right now is to get the absolute best lawyer he can afford, even if he has to go into debt. This is not the time to go cheap.

Thanks all for your comments (well, not DWToml815 :rolleyes: ).

Everyone is dead right about the lawyer. I am going to call his father and find out what the situation is - I think he may have hired an attorney already. I’m not in a position where I can bankroll his entire defense fund, but I can help out. Unfortunately Jeff was in school before this happened and doesn’t have 20k in the bank for himself, so unless his family can cough up the lion’s share, it’ll be Mr. Court Appointed, J.D.

Jurph, if it gets that bad (and IMO, it will) I’ll take your advice. There is apparently DNA evidence (used condom) in addition to 1+ witnesses. The incident “allegedly” took place at or after a party, where alcohol was involved. That can’t be good either.

Man. I’ve known this guy since I was 4. I still can’t believe it. Well, actually I can believe it, I just don’t want to. :frowning:

I agree with astro, suggest he get a real serious kick-ass lawyer if he has to bankrupt himself to do it.

Other than that, I would NOT encourage him to talk. If he is guilty, do you want to face being called at trial as a witness to his confession? I would tell him not to trust ANYONE but his lawyer with the truth – or a shrink if your state has shield laws to protect confidentiality. His lawyer can tell him if it’s safe to unburden himself to a shrink or priest or maybe someone else. But I really don’t think it should be YOU, at least until the trial is over.


It seems like the circumstances would make a big difference. If this man and the girl thought of themselves as boyfriend/girlfriend, or if he reasonably believed or she encouraged him to believe that she was over 18, maybe he deserves a strong defense and a reduced charge. On the other hand, if he knowingly took advantage of a young girl or used even a hint of force he deserves no help or sympathy at all. I wouldn’t know how to deal with a friend in those circumstances without knowing more about the case. What does the girl say?

No matter what the situation, grief is grief, and talking helps. Ask him. He very likely wants to talk about what’s going on and how he’s feeling about it.
Don’t give him advice unless he asks for it. He likely needs a listener.
Whether he’s guilty or not isn’t an issue, if you are truly his friend. You don’t have to agree with his actions, or even believe his rationalizations, but you can listen. If he’s already in jail, ask what you would be allowed to bring him when you visit.
Let him know he can call you, once he’s inside. He will have to call collect, so be prepared to accept the charges.

Just remember that he has yet to be convicted, so he is presumed innocent.

This thread inspired me to create another in GQ called My friend confesses committing a crime to me. What are my legal obligations? I thought it would be usefule to know what could ne one possible outcome of your conversation, if your friend talked to you about the detauls of the alleged crime.

How old is the “friend”? Quite possibly the best thing to do it let him rot like he deserves.


Thanks. Sometimes the solution is so obvious. Sexual predator = no longer a friend.

Having seen enough of nubile 15 year olds playing at being 18 or 21 year olds (and sometimes succeeding) in order to drink and party, classifying a 20 something young man as a “sexual predator” based on the sketchy info given in the OP is asinine. Unless it’s proved he coerced her or forced her to do his bidding his status as a “predator” is questionable. In a number of states the age of consent is 16. Sending him to jail because he was a few months early is an iffy proposition.

I agree. Let’s not forget who the real victim is. A man who sexually exploits a 25 year old girl does not get any sympathy from me. This is is own fault and I wish more of these sleazeballs would go to prison.