Most legal matters require that they be handled during regular business hours. For many, that means taking time off work. Add in time for phone calls to courts or lawyers, plus expensive legal fees, there’s a high probability that your friend in legal trouble is far more stressed than they appear. Here are some constructive ways you can help your friend with their legal issues and resulting financial stressors.
Driving Under the Influence
Getting caught driving under the influence (DUI) comes with stiff penalties, even for first-time offenders. Keep doing it, and things get worse. For example, in Pennsylvania, a second DUI conviction can result in time in jail and fines of $300 – $2,500.
Help your friend by offering to be a support system. Encourage them not to go out when they drink and offer to be the designated driver if they do. Your friend won’t escape even more severe penalties if they are arrested again for the same charge.
If your friend is incarcerated and is eligible to get out on bail, it could be helpful if you work with the bail bond agency to secure your friend’s freedom. Bail bond agencies act as a surety and pledge money or property as bail for a defendant’s appearance in court. If your friend is released on bail, the friend has a better chance of escaping stiffer penalties if you can help them abide by the terms of their bail judgment while they await their trial date.
If your friend has been arrested on criminal charges, it’s imperative to stay in contact with your friend throughout their case. Decades worth of their life may depend on it. For example, in Michigan, the crime of home invasion carries a potential maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison! Cooperate with any investigation from the authorities. The information they find could lead to lesser jail time or proving their innocence.
Financing Legal Fees
Legal fees may be astronomical, and being able to finance the legal fees may be the only way to pay them. If you feel capable of this and are willing to do this for your friend, attempt to finance the approximate balance.
Part of helping your friend pay the legal fees or fines they’ve incurred is helping them find additional or better-paying job opportunities. The timing might be perfect for helping them research gig work or picking up additional shifts at work. You may need to remain in contact with their family members if they’re in deep debt.
As you work to help your friend, have you thought of ways that their situation could be prevented in the future? Find comfortable ways to suggest alternate behavior, friend choices, or hobbies worth exploring. If their legal situation was no fault of their own, then brainstorm different things that can be implemented in the future that will keep your friend remain safe.
Managing Your Friend’s Emotions
It’s important to understand that you believe your friend when they speak about their legal issue and financial stress. Even if there’s no other help you can provide, believing someone is one of the key factors in successfully allowing people to move through a legal issue.
Remember that stress affects people differently. It’s normal for your friend to bring up the same topic or repeat the same sets of information more than once over some time.
Set Healthy Boundaries With Time Limits
As the legal issue progresses, it’s perfectly okay to begin setting time limits on listening to your friend’s grievances about these stressors. You can tell them you only have a limited amount of time to visit or let them know you want to spend part of your time together talking about other things as well. Setting time limits may feel awkward or uncaring, but you’re allowing your friend to work these matters out in a supportive and productive way. Remember that, as you extend your offer of help, you can control how long you want to help them and in what ways you’re willing to do so.
When your friend is in legal trouble, you’ll feel just as stressed as they are. Help them through the process by remaining in contact with their legal counsel and family members. In the end, they’ll learn from their situation and have you to thank for it.