It goes without saying that you don’t usually leave home knowing that you will end the day in jail. The majority of people never expect to ever find themselves in jail. But, things sometimes happen and if you do find yourself being detained, even for a minor offense, knowing what steps you need to take to secure your release will give you a certain amount of peace of mind that you would not have had otherwise. This article explains how to get out of jail after you have been arrested.
Getting Out of Jail
After you have been arrested, getting out of jail will require that you either:
- Post bail,
- Secure a bail bond, or
- Be released on your own recognizance
If you have the money, posting bail is the easiest way to get out jail. Bail is money you give to the court as “collateral” and to ensure that you will return to stand trial.
The Eighth Amendment to the constitution entitles you to be released from jail until trial unless there is a reason to believe that you might not return to court. Furthermore, it stipulates that the bail required for your release must be set at a reasonable amount and must not be “excessive”.
So, typically, your bail will be set by a judge within 24hrs of your arrest (unless you were arrested over the weekend). The actual amount you will need to post will be an amount that the judge believes will provide sufficient incentive for you to return to court. Usually, the longer your criminal record and/or the more serious the offense, the higher the bail.
After the judge sets your bail, you may post this amount in cash (or a cash equivalent) to secure your release until trial. Thereafter, if you return to stand trial when you are supposed to and meet all other court dates, your money will be refunded to you, less a small administration charge, after your case is concluded.
However, if you do not return to stand trial on the given date, you will forfeit the money you posted as bail, and the court will issue a warrant for your arrest.
Securing a Bail Bonds to Get Out of Jail
If you cannot raise the money to post bail, you can get out of jail by purchasing a bail bond from a bail bondsman (a person or entity that provides surety bonds for those arrested and awaiting trial on criminal charges).
A bail bond is like a loan to cover the amount of your bail. It can be obtained from a bail bondsman for a nonrefundable fee, typically 10% of your bail amount. So, for instance, if your bail amount is $10,000, a bail bond will cost you $1000.
You will also be required to pledge some type of collateral to secure the loan. For example, the deed to your house, title to your car or any other assets equaling the amount of your bail bond. If you return to stand trial, the collateral will be returned to you once your case has concluded.
If you don’t return to court, a warrant will be issued for your arrest, and the bail bondsman may endeavor to locate you and forcibly return you to stand trial. In addition, if you do not show up after a certain period of time, the bondsman may be allowed to liquidate whatever assets you have previously pledged as collateral.
Being Released from Jail on Your Own Recognizance
Finally, if you have little to no criminal record, the court may release you on your own recognizance, with just your word that you will return to stand trial.
Usually, this only happens if you have been arrested for a low-level offense, have little or no criminal record, and are not considered to be a flight risk. It will also help if you have a close family, work or business ties to the community in which you were arrested.
Again, if you do not return for your date in court after being released on your own recognizance, a warrant will be issued for your arrest and once arrested, you will be held in custody until your next date in court.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer
When you or a loved one have been jailed, it is extremely important that you contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer can advocate for you to be released on your own recognizance or to have your bail amount reduced to something that you or your family can afford. In addition, most criminal defense lawyers know reputable bail bondsmen whom they can refer you to if needed.