We've all seen the movies and have at least some vague idea of being read the Miranda Rights, which inform you of your rights as a U.S. citizen:
You have the right to remain silent and to refuse to answer any questions. Whatever you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you can't afford one, one will be appointed to you. If you decide to answer any questions you can still stop at any time until you consult with an attorney. Do you understand these rights and are you willing to answer my questions now? You may be asked to sign a document acknowledging you were read your rights.
What happens after this? If you are arrested, you will be patted down for drugs or weapons, handcuffed, placed into the patrol car, and taken to the nearest jail. Once there, you are moved to a holding cell until you are booked. You need to be on your best behavior at this point, this can save you a lot of trouble, since your time spent at the jail will under close supervision. Giving the impression of an aggressive or unstable person is not what you want to go for. Be cooperative, polite, do not admit to anything.
After you are officially booked in, you will go through a series of standard procedures. The order and procedure may differ from jail to jail, but in general, the following is typical. The officer runs through a list of standard biographical questions, photographs you, and takes your fingerprints. You will then be asked to gather your belongings and place them in a property bag. As you are handed an inmate suit and rubber sandals, it is customary to have an officer of the same sex as you remain present as you change. After this, you will be allowed to make the famous phone call as seen on TV. Play your cards right, and a courteous attitude may win you more than one phone call.
Now what? Most people arrest on a warrant will have a pre-set bond amount, this is the time when you could arrange for bail or have a family member do it for you. If your warrant says "no bond," such as maybe in cases involving domestic battery, you cannot bond out, until you see the Judge. In other cases, where you were arrested on charges that happened the night before, the officers usually will set bond, and you could try to bond out on those as well. However, just like in the case with warrants, there is usually a "no bond" on the domestic battery cases or any case that involves a victim. If you cannot bond out for one reason or another, you will see a Judge within 24 hours, at First appearance, at that point you can ask for an attorney, a bond will be set for you, and the Judge will evaluate if there is probable cause for your arrest.
Keep in mind that even if you post bail before First Appearance, you need to make sure to appear for the next court date, which is usually an Arraignment. Unless advised otherwise by your attorney, appearing at that hearing is essential.
Should you or a loved one ever find themselves in a similar unfortunate situation, don't hesitate to call an attorney for initial free advice. It will be worth it in the end.
Disclaimer: The above is not intended to be legal advice, and should not be taken as such. The above does not create an attorney-client relationship and is intended as general information and for educational purposes only.