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Guide to Getting out of Jail
Using a Bail Bond Company to Get Out of Jail
Unlike Monopoly, there are no “Get Out of jail Free” cards in the real world. Unless you are lucky enough to be released on your own recognizance, you are going to have to pay some money to the courts to ensure you show up in court. This money is called bail and the amount you have to pay is directly proportionate to your crime.
What is the Reasoning Behind Bail?
When you are arrested, there is a period of time between when you first see the judge to declare your innocence and any trial. This time can be anywhere from a few weeks to a few years. Unless there are extenuating reasons why you should remain behind bars until you are proven guilty, your lawyer can request you be released until you are due in court. The court wants to be sure that you will in fact return to face the court and jury, so they impose a fee you must pay. This fee will be returned to you after all your court obligations are met. This fee is called a bail. The judge and the prosecuting attorney will demand a higher bail if they are afraid you will not care about the money and leave the area or just not show up.
What Happens when you Do Not Have the Money for Your Bail?
If the bail is set for more money than you have, you can contact a bail bond company and ask them to put up the money for you but you will have to pay them a percentage of the bail first, usually 10 percent. If the bail is for a very large amount, you have a history of not appearing in court or the bond company feels you may leave or not show, they can require some type of collateral for the remainder of the bail. The bond company will then pay the court and you will be released.
After Your Court Date
If you show up to court and meet any obligations set by the judge, any collateral will be returned to you. The 10 percent you paid to the bond company is their fee, you will not get that back. If, however, you do not show up for your court date, you forfeit any collateral you gave to the bond company. In most cases you will also have a bond enforcement agent, a bounty hunter, come looking for you to drag you back to jail.
Paying Bail for Your Freedom
There may come a time when you find yourself being held at a local detention center whether you are guilty of a crime or not. If law enforcement officials have arrested you, you have the right to be seen by a judge to determine whether or not there is enough evidence to keep you in jail or if you have to be released due to insufficient evidence. If there is enough evidence against you, you, or your attorney can request that you be released if you pay a certain amount of money to guarantee that you will show up to any court proceedings regarding the crime.
How Bail is Set
In cases where you are being detained because you failed to pay traffic tickets or other citations given by some type of law enforcement agency, the bail will be the amount of the ticket plus any warrant fees. If you have been charged with a crime, the court will have some type of fee schedule in place for different crimes. The judge or prosecuting attorney may decide the bail is not high enough due to your financial situation and ask for more money. Remember, the reason for bail is to ensure that you show up for your trial or other court hearings. If there is some reason you may not show up for court regardless of the money, they will ask for a higher amount.
Paying the Bail
If you have the money, you can simply pay the court, sign all the paperwork and be released. In most areas, you may pay by check, cash or with a debit or credit card. You will be given the opportunity to get into your belongings to make this payment. You will not be released to go home and get your checkbook or go to the bank though, it must be in your belongings already.
Keeping Your Word
While you must show up for your court date to have your bail returned to you, there may be other stipulations you must follow as well. If you fail to do exactly as the judge ordered, you will be picked up and put back in jail. It is also important to note that if the amount of your bail was to pay for any unpaid fines, the money will not be returned to you even after you go to court, unless the fine is reduced after your hearing; you will receive the difference between the original fine and the new one.
How to Get Out of Jail with a Property Bond
If you have been accused of a crime that is serious enough to have the judge set a high bail for your release, you may need to resort to using a property bond to get out of jail until your court date. Unfortunately, this is not a quick process to complete. The steps to procuring a property bond take time, so be prepared to sit a bit behind bars.
Approval for a Property Bond
Before you begin starting your end of the paperwork for a property bond, a pretrial service officer will determine whether or not to recommend a property bond to the judge. The judge will then look over all the pertinent information and decide whether or not to grant your release on the bond. The prosecuting attorney may try to argue against your release at this point.
Once Approval has been Granted
Once the judge has agreed to the property bond, it is time for your sided to get things started. There needs to be an appraisal of the property. Bank statements showing how much is still owed on the home must be provided. Any mortgage owed will be subtracted from the appraised amount. A title search will need to be performed to make sure you have a clear title to the property. If there are other liens against the property they will be subtracted too. The remainder is the amount the court will consider available for bail. In most states, the amount available must be at least twice the amount of the bail required for your release.
Conditions for Your Release
The court will need to write up exactly what it is you need to do after you are released from detention. This may include having a curfew placed on you, checking in with the court or law enforcement regularly, making all court appearances, not getting into any other trouble with the law or possibly having to wear an ankle bracelet that tells the court where you are at all times. You will most likely have any travel restricted, meaning if you leave the area without permission from the court, you are in default of the terms. A new deed of trust will be drawn up for your property stating the terms of your release and your agreement to give up all rights to your property should you fail to comply with the terms. Anyone who has any interest or ownership in the property must sign the new deed. They might get a bit upset if you fail to comply and they lose their property so make sure you understand everything and obey all the stipulations.
Have a Friend or Family Member Get You Out of Jail
It may be very embarrassing and it may take a lot of persuasion, but if you do not have the means to get yourself out of jail on bail, your friends and/or family members may be able and willing to help. When you are permitted to make a phone call, your first one should be to the person you trust the most. This person will need to know what to do. They can call a lawyer, a bondsman and other friends and relatives if necessary. Hopefully, they will get everything together to obtain your release quickly.
Being Released into Someone’s Custody
While this is usually reserved for minors, it is possible to have the judge release you into someone else’s custody. This is very similar to being released on your own recognizance in that no money is required. What it means is that the court does not feel you will be responsible enough to make it to your court date but the crime was not serious enough to require a sum of money if there is someone who has a good standing in the community who promises to make sure you get to court.
Someone or a Group Get the Bail Together
If the people who know and love you also trust you enough, they may be willing to donate money to your bail fund. If the bail is not too big, or you have enough people who care about you, they may be able to come up with the whole amount of your bail and forego having to go to a bondsman. If they cannot come up with enough money, they can pay the bondsman a fee and have your bail paid with a bond. If that still is not enough, you might be able to convince someone to put up collateral for the remaining bail. This could be a car, boat or even a home.
Making Good on Their Trust
Remember, if you fail to follow any orders of the court, your loved ones will be out the money they put up for your bail. This will not only lose you a few loved ones, but since they know you very well, they could easily drag you back to jail to get their money or property back. It is not worth it is many ways to default on your release stipulations when other people are involved.
Getting out of Jail on Your Own Recognizance
There are times, when a judge may allow you to be released on your own recognizance. It means the court feels you are trustworthy enough to be released from jail without having to pay any bail. It is not a permanent get out of jail free though, you will be required to show up for your court date and there may be other stipulations for your release.
The Process of Being Released on Your Own Recognizance
Once you are arrested and processed into a detention center, you will be brought before a judge for your arraignment. You will be informed of any charges against you and asked how you plead; most often, at this point, you will plead “not guilty.” At this point you, or your attorney, may request you be released on your own recognizance (R.O.R.).
Factors that Will Help for a R.O.R.
Once an R.O.R. is requested, the judge will consider a few facts to help determine whether or not you should have it granted. This will include: • The seriousness of the crime. • Your previous record. • Your standing in the community. • If you have family in the area. • Whether or not you have failed to appear at any previous court hearings. • If you are a danger to yourself or someone else. If you are not granted an R.O.R., you may still ask the court for a lower bail amount.
Stipulations of an R.O.R.
If you are lucky enough to be granted one, there are likely to be certain things you must do to remain free. Failure to follow through on any of the court’s rulings will have a warrant issued and you will be returned to the detention center. The most common stipulations are: • Periodic check-ins with the court. • Travel Restrictions; you will be required to turn in your passport. • A curfew may be set with a required phone call at the curfew time, from your home phone. • Drug rehab, AA meetings or anger management classes may be required. • A restraining order may be imposed, forbidding you to go near someone or somewhere. You will be required to sign an affidavit stating that you understand and will comply with the rules set by the judge and that you will appear in court on the specified date and time. Once all the papers have been signed, you will be released and free to go about your business.
Coming up with Money for Your Bail
So, you have somehow managed to end up behind bars in the detention center. You have been to see the judge and told him you didn’t do it and he has set bail for your release until your hearing. The problem is you just do not have the money to make bail or even enough to pay the bondsman fees. You really do not want to sit in jail until you can prove your innocence, so what do you do?
Get in Touch with Someone with Access to Your Belongings
You are going to need the help of someone on the outside to take care of a few things for you. They need to get into your home and take some of your belongings to be sold or pawned. If you have a vehicle you can get a title loan on, they will need to bring all the paperwork to you to be signed and notarized. Often, a car will be enough to at least pay for a bond company to bail you out. It will be difficult for you, sitting in jail, to tell them what to sell and what to pawn. In some cases, your signature may be required. It will take a bit longer than if you were out there doing it on your own but if you want to be out there, someone has to do it.
Asking for Help
Once you have exhausted all possibilities, you may need to ask your friends and family for some help. Be sure you will be able to pay them back with your own money; do not count on the return of all your bail to pay them back. Anything you pay to a bondsman will be his fee and not returned and any fines or fees owed to the court will come out of the bail you pay directly to them.
Asking the Court for a Lower Bail
If you are finding it impossible to meet the bail requirements and you do not have a long record or a history of skipping your court appearances, have your lawyer ask for a lower bail to be set. If it was a pre-set amount, you may be able to have it lowered as long as the prosecuting attorney does not object. You may also request to sign a promise to pay bond. This note says your wages can be garnished, your tax refund withheld and any other money you have coming in attached to pay the full amount of the bail should you fail to appear. The court knows you cannot make any money if you are sitting in jail.
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