When someone lands in a jail cell, getting out as soon as possible is the utmost priority.
Alas, release from jail process is seldom simple and fast. There are some legal, administrative, and financial hurdles you need to be aware of. The best strategy is to remain calm and follow a step-by-step approach.
We’re here to provide a roadmap for navigating this difficult situation. We’ll explain everything in layman’s terms, so don’t worry. Here is what it takes to get a release with minimum headaches and expenses.
Arrest and Booking
Several conditions have to be met before authorities can order a release.
So, let’s start from the very beginning. Following an arrest, a suspect is handcuffed and taken to police custody. Usually, if the due procedure is followed, police officers disclose legal rights.
In essence, the individual is longer free to move around or leave.
Next off, the police department initiates the jail booking process, the first administrative step after an arrest. It revolves around collecting personal information and evidence linked to the supposed crime. Evidence pieces take various forms, from witness statements to suspect fingerprints and photographs.
This bureaucratic ordeal can be quite humiliating. Among other things, suspects lose access to their personal belongings and have to spend time in a holding cell.
In the case of minor crimes though, the court may cite and release suspects.
The Bail Hearing
After the booking is done, a bail hearing takes place.
This is when the accused persons have a chance to make a case and plea for release. The judge/magistrate evaluates whether they are eligible for release before the trial.
Bail is a type of security that can involve money or property. There are various factors a judge takes into account here:
- Evidence related to the crime
- Suspect’s financial resources
- Length of the residence
- Ties to the community
- Criminal background
The purpose of the bail isn’t to punish the suspect, but to prevent that individual from dodging future proceedings and committing the crime again.
So, if the accused poses little threat to the community and is likely to show up at future hearings, then the judge usually grants a bail. In the lowest-risk cases, the suspects can be released “on personal recognizance” also called release O.R. This is to say they don’t have to post bail themselves.
On the other hand, people associated with high flight risk are held without bail. Finally, affluent people tend to pay more because the bail needs to be a considerable amount of money, relatively speaking.
Schedules and Judge Discretion
The type of crime naturally has an impact on the bail amount.
For instance, more serious (capital) crimes invoke larger bail sums. Depending on federal and state laws, judges can also exert discretionary power or adhere to the pre-set schedule of common crimes.
This schedule, for instance, sets the price for a nonviolent misdemeanor at around $500.
Paying the designated amount (known as “catch and release”) is the standard procedure when crime in question is generic and relatively mild. Think in terms of reckless driving or shoplifting.
In other cases, when the outcome of the hearing is positive, then the bail amount is set irrespective of schedules. The accused is allowed either to post the bail personally or via a legal representative (bail bond agent).
Court Hearings and Arraignments
Those who refuse to pay the bail must stay in jail until the next court hearing or arraignment.
At the arraignment, the defendant is permitted to make a plea. The judge decides on a bail amount or orders release without bail. All that is left is for the defendant to finally pay the bail, which can happen immediately or down the road.
There are instances in which the arraignment doesn’t occur.
Instead, the court holds a bail hearing or a special hearing. These hearings are supposed to assess the probability of causes behind charges.
Other Options at Your Disposal
Furthermore, if the defendant doesn’t pay the bail as agreed, the money or property is forfeited.
What is more, the defendant is subject to arrest once more. Here, we should point out there’s a risk for those posting bails for someone else.
They may also lose their money or have their property seized due to forfeiture. Not to mention having to explain to the court where the money came from.
Lastly, bear in mind you can utilize a bail bond service, which is similar to a loan company.
This service streamlines the whole process considerably. You just have to cover a non-refundable fee and secure the arrangement with collateral. You then let the company handle rest, which means pay the full amount of the bail.
Before you take the plunge, do your homework. Make sure you know the meaning of a bail bond and how exactly it works.
Almost In the Clear
Notice that release from jail doesn’t imply complete freedom.
A number of restrictions apply, such as:
- Travel limitations
- Drug, alcohol, and substance testing
- Periodic checks and searches by the authorities
- Bans on contacts with witnesses and other involved parties
- Obligatory meetings with probation officers
On top of that, the suspect has to fulfill other obligations. They include scheduled trials and hearings and there’s no going around them.
Seeking Legal Counsel
Ultimately, to secure a release from jail you don’t have to hire a lawyer at all.
Yet, everyone is entitled to legal counsel. Lawyers can be a great asset, especially when answering questions surrounding the crime itself. They can also reduce the bail amount.
If the accused of criminal charges can’t afford a lawyer, the court assigns one. This right is outlined in the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Regardless of the circumstances, it’s always good to have a seasoned criminal defense attorney on your team. These guys can get you, your friend or a loved one out of the woods sooner rather than later.
Carry Out Release from Jail Process Like a Pro
There’s nothing worse than ending up in a cell and not knowing your rights.
The good news is that the way out is within sight. You just have to learn how the release from jail process plays out and factors that determine the bail outcome. You’ll be able to react appropriately, even if you receive an urgent phone call in the dead of night.
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