After an arrest, there are few things more important than getting out of confinement. To be released, you usually have to be offered bail. In some cases, the accused is offered an opportunity to be released on their own recognizance. To find out about that and what factors go into figuring out bail, read on.
Three Ways to Be Free
You don't have to sit in jail and await your trial, at least in most cases. Only those accused of very serious offenses like murder have to stay confined and are not offered bail. For others, there are several methods of getting out of jail.
1. Released on own recognizance. This means you are judged to not be a danger to the general public and that you can be trusted to return for future court dates of your own volition.
2. Offered bail and you pay the full amount of the bail to gain release.
3. Offered bail and you pay a bail bonding company to arrange for your release. Bail bonds allow incarcerated individuals an opportunity to be released without having to pay the price of an exorbitant bail. Bail bonds are available at a far lower price than the bail—a percentage of it, in fact.
How Bail Is Set
There are numerous factors at play when it comes to what the judge decides to charge a given defendant to gain freedom. If they are not considered a danger to the public, other aspects of the defendant are evaluated. The crime to which they are accused is of primary importance. The more serious the crime and number of counts, the higher the bail charged. Defendants are usually informed of the bail amount when they first come before the judge after an arrest. Known as the arraignment or bail hearing, most defendants are unable to argue about a lower bail due to not yet having legal representation.
If you have a previous criminal record, it will doubtless play a part in the amount of the bail charged. While there are some basic guidelines for judges to follow when setting bail, they are allowed a great deal of leeway to take all contributing factors into account. For example, the guidelines might indicate a $2,000 bail for a person who is picked up for a probation violation. If the defendant has a history of violating probation, the judge may add a $1,000 onto the suggested bail amount.
The least expensive option to be free of jail is to use a bail bonding company. If the above bail is set at $3,000 and the bonding company charges a 10% fee, freedom from jail can be had for $300 instead of $3,000. Speak to a bail bonds company to find out more about getting out on bail.