If you have been released on bail, this can be one of the most anxious times of your life. In the past days or weeks, you have had your world turned upside down: you were arrested, charged with a series of offences, possibly spent some time in custody, and now you're back in the outside world for the time being. It is a mix of emotion, you are so relieved that you are no longer inside a holding cell, or prison, but at the same time, you face the very real outcome that you have to return there in the next year or two.
"I don't want to go to jail, what can I do?"
This is a very common question I get asked in my telephone consultations. Of course, no one wants to go to prison. The first point to keep in mind is don't talk to the police until you have spoken to a lawyer. Even if you are completely innocent, I would suggest you don't talk to them, because anything you say can be used against you in court. It doesn't matter how insignificant of a conversation you think you are having, the police are trained to build rapport with you and get you to slip up and say something incriminating.
The best thing you can do is to find a good lawyer who is experienced in your particular crime. If you are going to fight your charges, you want to have the best chance you can, with a legal team that is experienced with what you have been accused of. If you plan to plead guilty, then you want a legal team that can persuade the judge that your sentence should be non-custodial, or served in the community (eg: an Intensive Corrections Order).
If you don't have much money, you can use Legal Aid, which is a government agency that provides you with free legal services.
Who else can I talk to?
Speaking to a lawyer will help you stay out of jail, but you may be facing very likely jail time, for example if you are involved with drug charges. A lawyer cannot really describe what jail is like, because they have never served time behind bars, but they can paint you a brief picture of what it is like from an objective point of view.
If you want to speak to an ex-inmate who has served time in NSW prisons, you can contact me via the form below. I can answer basic questions via email, and I also offer paid telephone consultations. I can answer any questions you have, explain how things work, and get you prepared as best as you can be before you go in. The biggest reason people fear going to jail is the unknown. You are scared because you don't know what to expect. Will you get bashed or sexually assaulted? Will you have to fight as soon as you enter the prison yard? There are a lot of things that will run through your head, and I know exactly how that felt. But I can help you through this journey, and I wish that I had the opportunity to speak to someone before I went in.
What is Australian prison like?
Ask an ex-inmate any questions about jail
If you have any quick questions that you are curious about, or if you are facing imprisonment and need some more info, please leave me a message below with your details.
I am also available for telephone consultations if you need to chat for longer.