Arrested in Orange County – why am I getting letters from lawyers?

What you’re getting is commonly referred to as “jail mail.”

Unfortunately, you got arrested and either got released with a court date coming up or you posted bail with a date to appear in the future.  Now, your mailbox is flooded with letters from lawyers and law firms.

That “jail mail” comes from attorneys that subscribe to services that comb arrest records. Those services sell the lists of people arrested so the attorneys can send those lovely letters you’re getting. There have been case decisions dealing with jail mail… attorneys are allowed to do exactly what they’re doing. It has been viewed by the courts as protected speech and an approved of method of advertising for law firms in California.  Lawyers (or their staff or a service for a fee will stuff envelopes and send out letters to everybody arrested in Orange County.  Some focus on only DUI arrests, some focus on domestic violence and others send letters to everybody.
You’ve probably seen all sorts of flyers, letters and even coupons.  I’ve seen them ranging from sympathetic sounding to fire and brimstone – promising gloom and doom, not to mention a lengthy jail sentence unless you hire them immediately.  They probably range from local attorneys to large firms that will try to land business, then farm out the work to a local attorney.  I can only assume that they’re sent in a flood, hoping to get to you before you hire an attorney.

Can you stop the letters from coming?

By the time you get the first letter, it’s too late.  You know your information has been gathered by the service and distributed to the lawyers that subscribe to their lists.  They’re all going to send them as quickly as possible (typically within the first 2-3 days).

But what if you’re trying to keep your legal troubles private or secret?  The letters are going to be sent to whatever address is listed as your home address during booking.  As far as I know, the subscription services and the lawyers that utilize them don’t have any sort of screening mechanism and simply send out the letters to whoever fits their criteria.  It could have the unfortunate effect of alerting family, roommates or even neighbors (in the case of misdirected mail) that you are now getting letters from defense attorneys.  The only way to head it off is to be the one that gathers the mail for the week following your arrest.  Not practical for most people, I know.

Sorry – with any luck, they’ll taper off and stop shortly.

And no, you didn’t get a single letter from my office.  If you do want to talk about your case, give me a call or send an email.

Joe Dane


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