No matter who you are or where you come from, you are a child, parent, sibling, spouse, or friend of somebody. Can you imagine waking up in the middle of the night to a phone call explaining that your loved one has wound up in jail? And even worse, they are likely calling you for help – and they probably prefer if you could help them immediately! So, what do you do?
Once somebody has been arrested and placed in jail, there is generally just one thing going through that person’s head – how do I get out? Well, the key to getting someone out of jail usually involves paying bail. Bail is typically cash, or property that has a similar cash value, that the defendant has given to the court in return for a promise to show up in court when ordered to do so. If the defendant ultimately appears in court on time, their bail will be returned. However, if a defendant does not show up, the court will keep bail and will most likely issue a warrant for arrest. Consequently, the defendant will likely end up back in jail.
Judges are responsible for setting bail. But, for many common crimes, jails have likely set standard predetermined bail amounts. Consequently, an arrested person can often get out of jail quickly by paying the predetermined amount, instead of waiting for a day or longer to see a judge. Furthermore, the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution establishes that no person can have excessive bail amount set against them. Which means that defendants cannot be used as a punishment for having been arrested.
So, I can just pay bail and my loved one will be released?
Well, not so fast. Before being released, a defendant must complete the booking process – a bureaucratic, and often humiliating, procedure. Once that’s done, the defendant can then post bail according to a bail schedule which gets them released. When you post bail, you are essentially paying the amount that your bail was set at. This can be done in a number of ways – including paying by cash, signing over ownership rights to property, or giving a bond.
This is typically what happens when a person is arrested for a common crime:
1. The defendant is arrested and booked at the police station.
2. After booking, the defendant may be offered the option to pay bail or they must wait in jail until a court hearing or arraignment.
3. If the defendant accepts the option to pay bail and they do so, the defendant is released.
4. At the arraignment, the defendant may enter a plea and the judge will set bail. The defendant is able to pay bail at this time.
So, you don’t you need an attorney to get out of jail?
In some cases, you may not necessarily need an attorney to get out of jail. Although, you should know that a defendant charged with a crime that results in a prison or jail term is entitled to counsel. The advantage of retaining an attorney at the time of arrest is that the attorney may be able to get the bail reduced or get charges reduced. Accordingly, a reduction of charges would generally result in lower bail. Please keep in mind that the contents of this blog post may vary depending on where you are located or the location of arrest. If you have any related questions or are concerned with getting a friend or loved one out of jail, call The Stafford Firm toll free on (561) 540-4533.