Being arrested and having to post bail can be a confusing and stressful experience. This is especially true when it’s your first time, and you’re not sure what your rights are, who to call, or when you’ll have a moment’s peace.
It’s only natural that you might not know how bail works or what your options are. And even if it isn’t your first rodeo with the justice system, it’s likely that you’ve forgotten about past incidents or that some procedural change has occurred within the jail and court systems since then. This blog post will explain the process, as well as how to get bail reduced or eliminated, and what to do if you can’t.
How Bail Works
Bail is money that is posted to secure your release from jail. The amount of bail is set by the court based on the severity of the crime, your criminal history, and whether you are considered a flight risk. If you are unable to post bail, you will have to remain in jail until your trial date.
For most misdemeanor or low-level felony offenses, bail is set in the $1,000-$2,500 range. This keeps people with limited resources from having to stay in jail for months or years while awaiting trial.
If you can post bail, you will be released from custody and given a date to return to court. If you fail to appear in court, the bail money will be forfeited and a warrant will be issued for your arrest. While bail, in general, has its share of critics, it’s the best system we know for promoting accountability while allowing the accused to get their affairs in order.
How to Get Bail Reduced or Eliminated
If you believe that a judge has set an amount of bail that is too high, you can ask the court to reduce it (through you or your attorney). The court may consider reducing the bail amount if you have ties to the community (e.g., a job, family, etc.), if you have no prior criminal history, or if the crime is not considered serious.
For example, if you are accused of shoplifting a $20 item from a store, the court is unlikely to set bail at $1,000. However, if you are accused of armed robbery, the court is more likely to set a higher bail amount.
What to Do if You Can’t Post Bail
If you are unable to post bail, there are a few options available to you. One option is to request a collateral bond. A collateral bond is when someone else pledges property (e.g., a house, car, jewelry, etc.) as collateral for your bail bond. If you fail to appear for your court date, the person who pledged the collateral will lose the property.
Another option is a surety bond. A surety bond is when a professional bondsman or bond agency, such as PCS Bail Bonds, posts bail on your behalf in exchange for a fee (usually 10 percent of the total bail amount). If you fail to appear for your court date, the bondsman will be responsible for the amount paid and has the right to ensure your presence at trial.
Yet another option is a character bond. A character bond is when someone else pledges their good character on your behalf to get you released from jail without posting any money for bail. This option is usually only available if you have strong ties to the community and no prior criminal history.
Similar to this concept is personal recognizance. This occurs when a judge releases you from jail without any bail being posted, on the condition that you promise to appear for your court date.
If you are unable to post bail or have it reduced, you will have to remain in jail until your trial date. This can be a stressful and difficult experience, so it’s important to stay apprised of your options and to do what is required.
Learning How Bail Works Will Save You Time and Trouble
Understanding how bail works and what your options are can help ease some of the stress associated with an arrest. Hopefully, this blog post has provided some clarity on how bail works and what your options are if you can’t post bail.
If you need professional bail assistance, however, you’ll want to turn to the company that’s helped hundreds secure a quick and early release over the last 30 years. That company, PCS Bail Bonds, is here to help you or your loved one find a path forward. Contact us today to learn more!