What You Absolutely Must Do to Get out of Jail
If you’re in or on your way to jail, getting out will undoubtedly be your first priority. Generally speaking, this is accomplished by posting bail. Posting bail is accomplished by a cash payment or by pledging personal property that will be forfeited if you fail to appear in court at a date and time specified by a judge or magistrate. Failing to appear in court could also result in a warrant being issued for your arrest.
When a criminal defendant is required to appear before a judge in order to obtain bail, they will likely spend some time in jail. The police are known for arresting suspects on a Friday, greatly increasing the odds that the suspect will spend the weekend in jail. If the arrest was for one of many common crimes, standard bail amounts may apply. This means that you will not have to appear in court to have bail set in your case.
The 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution stipulates that the government is prohibited from imposing excessive bail. Theoretically, this means that government officials cannot set an excessive bail amount to keep a suspect in custody.
The only legitimate purpose for bail is to ensure that a suspect appears in court as ordered by a presiding judge or magistrate. Nevertheless, excessive bail is often used as a tool to keep certain offenders in jail. This technique is employed to keep serious offenders like drug dealers in custody.
Sometimes it’s not possible for a criminal suspect to meet a reasonable bail requirement. When this happens, the suspect will have to ask the court to reduce the amount of bail during a bail hearing or initial court appearance. If the judge agrees to lower the amount of bail, a bail payment can be made by one of the following means:
- Cash or check
- Signing over the rights to personal property of sufficient value to meet the bail requirement
- Arranging for a bond in the amount of the bail
- Signing a statement to be released on your own recognizance
Whenever possible, you should take advantage of the option to be released on your own recognizance. This involves signing a statement in which you promise to appear in court at the appointed date and time. Sometimes it’s necessary to purchase a bond to be released from custody. A bond can be purchased for approximately 10 percent of the face value of the bail amount. This amount is not refundable.
It will probably be necessary to pledge adequate collateral in order to purchase a bond. Many defendants use their home or car as collateral. Failing to appear in court could result in the forfeiture of any and all collateral that was pledged to purchase the bond.