Bail: How to Get Out Of Jail But Not For Free

Gavel depicting bail

What happens when your son or daughter, your husband, or your friend calls you in the middle of the night and tells you they have been arrested and they need your help?

Assuming you don’t feel inclined to let them spend the night in jail, you are probably wondering if there is a way to get someone out pending trial so they don’t have to wait to jail until their day in court.

The answer is yes; there is a way not to have to spend the night in jail depending on why you were arrested.

Posting Bail

Bail is security in the form of money or property that a defendant posts with a court. By paying this money, or borrowing against some property, you are telling the court that you won’t skip town and that you will show up to your court date as planned in exchange for your freedom until the time of the trial.

The advantage for the court is that if you don’t show up as scheduled, your bail payment is forfeited, and you run the risk of being arrested again.

A predetermined bail schedule for different charges may determine how much you will have to pay.

However, a judge can also set bail based on several factors:

  • The seriousness of the crime
  • Your financial condition,
  • And your criminal history.

For more common misdemeanors, bail schedules set your bail unless you elect to wait for a judge to set the amount. In other cases, a judge may release you without bail. This is referred to as release on “own recognizance” or O.R.

What Happens Before You Post Bail

If you are arrested, you will have to go through booking procedures at the police station. Booking will happen whether you are likely to be released or not.

After booking, you may have the option to pay bail according to the schedule and be released right away if your charges are common, nonviolent misdemeanors.

If you choose not to pay or are not offered bail, you will wait in the jail or police station holding cell for your arraignment or bail hearing.

At your arraignment, you will enter a plea, and the judge will set bail.

An Attorney’s Role in Getting You Out Of Jail

You don’t need an attorney to post bail to get someone out of jail. If you have been charged with a crime that is punishable by prison time, you are entitled to an attorney.

If you are going to be questioned, you are allowed to have an attorney present. In addition, an experienced attorney can argue to have your bail reduced, or your charges reduced resulting in lower sum of money.

The Risk

There are several risks or restrictions you need to know about before posting bail.

The first is that by posting bail, you must agree to give up some of your rights. You have to agree to certain conditions, submit blood or DNA tests or searches or meet with a probation officer.

If you are posting for someone else, you risk losing what you paid if the defendant doesn’t show up to court and you will have to answer questions about the source of money you used to pay bail.

A bail bond service will likely be on hand to offer what is essentially a loan. You must pay them a premium, typically 10% of the full amount, which is nonrefundable.

You must also secure the loan with collateral such as your car or your house. If the defendant doesn’t show up, the bond service may go after that collateral to be paid.


Paying bail may feel like a bad compromise to some. However, it is an effective way for the judicial system to allow defendants their freedom while still ensuring that they will show up for their court dates.

Having an experienced criminal attorney by your side can make all the difference. Please contact my office. I would be honored to help!

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