California Penal Code Section 851.5 (a) makes it clear that "Immediately upon being booked, and, except where physically impossible, no later than three hours after arrest, an arrested person has the right to make at least three completed telephone calls."
Do I have to have exact change or pay for the telephone calls?
California Penal Code Section 851.5 (a) states that "The arrested person shall be entitled to make at least three calls at no expense if the calls are completed to telephone numbers within the local calling area."
What if I want to make a telephone call outside the local calling area?
California Penal Code Section 851.5 (b) states that you may "at his or her own expense if outside the local area."
Whom may I call?
California Penal Code Section 851.5 (b)(1) states that you may call "An attorney of his or her choice or, if he or she has no funds, the public defender or other attorney assigned by the court to assist indigents, whose telephone number shall be posted. This telephone call shall not be monitored, eavesdropped upon, or recorded." Nevertheless, it is never a good idea to talk about the details of your case unless you are in complete privacy with your lawyer. You never know who might be listening to your conversation. California Penal Code Section 851.5 (b)(2 and 3) state that you may call "A bail bondsman," and "a relative or other person."
Can I make extra telephone calls if I have minor kids?
California Penal Code Section 851.5 (c) states that you may call "if, upon questioning during the booking process, the arrested person is identified as a custodial parent with responsibility for a minor child, the arrested person shall be entitled to make two additional calls at no expense if the calls are completed to telephone numbers within the local calling area to a relative or other person for the purpose of arranging for the care of the minor child or children in the parent’s absence." Also, according to California Penal Code Section 851.5 (d) "these telephone calls shall be given immediately upon request, or as soon as practicable."
Does a busy signal count as a completed call?
A busy signal does not count as a completed telephone call. As the court held in (Carlo v City of Chino (9th Cir 1997) 105 F3d 493), "the right to a telephone call, as detailed in California Penal Code § 851.5, constitutes a liberty interest recognized by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."
What happens if a public officer or employee deprives me of my right to a telephone call?
According to California Penal Code Section 851.5 (f), "Any public officer or employee who willfully deprives an arrested person of any right granted by this section is guilty of a misdemeanor."