October 1st, 2018
When a person is arrested and sent to jail, there is typically a monetary amount that they must meet in order to be released. This is called bail. Bail can be cash, a bond, or property that the arrested person pays to ensure that they will show up for their court date. If the person does not show up as scheduled, the court may keep the bail and issue a warrant for their arrest.
A judge is responsible for setting bail. Most people want to get out of jail immediately instead of waiting a day or more to see the judge. For this reason, many jails have a standard bail schedule that presets bail amounts based on specific crimes. If the defendant pays the amount in the bail schedule, they can usually get out of jail quickly.
The primary purpose for setting bail is to allow an arrested person to remain free until convicted of a crime while ensuring that they return to court. If a person wants to post bail but cannot afford the required amount, they can ask a judge to lower the amount. The request can be made during a bail hearing, or when the person appears in court for the first time.
Bail can be paid in the form of cash, check, or property that is worth the full bail amount, or a bond that guarantees payment in the full bail amount. If the full amount of bail is paid, the full amount will be refunded (minus a small administrative fee) when the case is over. A bond seller’s fee is non-refundable.
When a person is released from jail, they must comply with conditions of release. Violating these conditions can cause re-arrest and a return to jail. Some conditions are simply to obey all laws, while other conditions can be more specific, such as an order not to contact an alleged victim.
Getting Bailed Out
Sometimes bail can be a waiver of payment on the condition that the arrested person appears in court as required. This is called being released on one’s “own recognizance” (O.R.) In lieu of bail, a person released on O.R. signs a promise to show up in court. Factors that can convince a judge to release a person O.R. include:
•Having immediate family living in the community
•Being a resident for many years
•Having no criminal record, or a minor record that is several years in the past
•Having appeared in court in the past as required
If you’re trying to get out of jail or have any questions about bail issues, it’s best to enlist the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. An attorney who is familiar with the local system and applicable law in your state can be your best line of defense when facing criminal charges. A knowledgeable layer can not only help arrange your release, but they can advise you on how to handle everything that will continue to happen after you get out.