What Happens When You Don't Have A "Get Out Of Jail Free" Card
If you have been arrested, it is going to take a while before your case goes to court. Until you are officially declared guilty of the charges you are considered to be innocent. This means that you may be allowed to leave jail as long as you promise to return on the court date and face the judge and jury. However, the court may have a problem believing you will willingly come back so they can impose a bail. This is an amount of money the court holds until you show up to face the charges against you. Here is a bit of information you need to understand when you are not going to be released on your own recognizance (basically a "get out of jail free" card.)
How the Bail Amount is Determined
The more common, non-threatening crimes usually have a pre-set amount you can pay to gain your release. Charges like a bench warrant for failure to pay a traffic fine, petty larceny, and misdemeanors that do not involve hurting others will usually have a set bail amount. However, if you have been arrested for a serious crime or are considered to be a threat to others, the amount of bail will be determined by how dangerous you are to yourself or others, your ability to leave the area, and what you were arrested for allegedly doing.
When is Bail Determined
If you fail into a pre-set category, your bail can be paid as soon as you have been processed into the system, and you will be released shortly thereafter. If a judge needs to set your bail, you are going to have to wait until you can be seen. Luckily, you have rights that mandate you must be seen within three judicial days. However, this means that if you were arrested on a Friday evening, you may not be seen until the following Wednesday. The judge will talk with you, your lawyer, and the prosecutor to determine how much bail is required.
When you do not have the money to pay the full amount of bail, you can get a court appearance bail bond. Contact a bail bond agent to make all the arrangements. You will need to pay a percentage of the bail up front, and the bond company will guarantee you will show up for your court appearance. If you do not show up, they will send someone to find you and take you back to jail. The important thing to understand is that the amount you pay the bail bond company will not be returned to you after you go to court. If you pay the court the full amount of bail, you will get that money back.
Getting arrested can be scary and confusing. You do not want to have to sit in jail until the court can set a date to determine whether you are guilty or innocent. Talk with friends and relatives to arrange to pay bail, or buy a bail bond as soon as possible so you can get out of jail and start working on your defense.