If an advocate is present at the time of arrest, the best thing to do is to remind the person not to say anything until the person has a lawyer. In addition, it will not hurt to tell the police the person has a cognitive/communication disability and requires ADA mandated accommodation in the form of a criminal lawyer.
This is the least you should do until a lawyer is obtained for the person.
Part of the arrest process is the formal "booking" which includes paperwork, pictures and fingerprinting. Along with any needed reminders about not talking without a lawyer, the advocate should be as supportive as possible because this process can feel scary and intimidating.
If the person is to be jailed until they are arraigned, this would be the time to assure that the jail personnel know about any medications the person takes, allergies they have and any specific disability related needs.
For instance, one person we helped had a hearing impairment acquired after age ten. He never learned ASL. He spoke, he read lips, and could read written messages. He was in our county jail several months before his public defender called to ask for our help.
When we visited him in the jail, we found he had little knowledge of jail procedure for communication, internally or externally. Because he had speech, people wrongly assumed he could magically read lips with 100% accuracy, and they figured he still had some hearing. We approached the jail sergeant, had her unearth the TDD/TTY and we taught both our client and the jail personnel how to use it.
From that day on, he could call us or his lawyer at any time. The sergeant connected him with "inmate services" who talked and wrote notes to help him learn the process for requests in the jail (e.g. talk to a social worker, etc.). If we had known him at the time of arrest, we would have assured that he had the necessary information and means to communicate much earlier. Further accommodations were implemented in his subsequent appearances.
Written by: Melissa King,
Attorney-at-Law, King Law Offices; Karen Wolf-Branigin,
Wayne State University, Developmental Disabilities
Institute; Rachel Pinsky Law Graduate,
Wayne State University; Robert Lasker, Belinda Land, Vendalia
Collins, Cheryle Trommater, Marsha Katz,