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Criminal procedure

phone calls from jail

Following arrest and the booking process, a person will usually be allowed to use a jail telephone to call a lawyer, a bail bondsman, and a relative or other person. There is no Constitutional right to make these telephone calls following arrest and incarceration and the ability to make such phone calls is usually governed by state law or by the jail’s policy.

For example, some states provide by statute that an arrested person is entitled to make at least three telephone calls at no expense if the calls are completed to telephone numbers within the local calling area, or at the person’s own expense if outside the local calling area. Some states require that these telephone calls be permitted within three hours following arrest if possible—and in some states, within one hour. And some states more generally require that an arrested person be allowed to use the telephone within a reasonable time following arrest.

Laws regarding an arrested person’s ability to make telephone calls vary from state to state and are generally located in a state’s statutes or in the state’s rules of criminal procedure.

In Texas, the right of an arrested individual to make telephone calls after being booked is not explicitly guaranteed by the Constitution but is typically governed by state statutes and the policies of the specific jail or detention facility. Texas law does not provide a statutory entitlement for a set number of free phone calls. However, the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 15.17 requires that an arrested person must be taken before a magistrate without unnecessary delay, and no later than 48 hours after the arrest. During this initial appearance, the magistrate informs the individual of their rights, including the right to an attorney and the right to remain silent. While Texas law does not specify a precise timeframe within which phone calls must be allowed, local jail policies often dictate when and how many phone calls an arrested person can make. These policies can vary widely, so it's important to consult the rules of the specific facility. Additionally, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards sets minimum standards for county jails, which may include provisions related to access to telephones, but these standards do not guarantee a specific number of calls or a timeframe within which calls must be made.

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