If your loved one has been arrested, getting them out of jail is probably one of the first things on your mind. After someone has been charged with a crime and has appeared before a judge for a bail hearing, they'll be able to go home if they are able to post the necessary amount of bail money.
Bail amounts can be quite high depending on the seriousness of the charges. For people scrambling to find their loved ones bail money fast, alternative options, like bail bonds, may be the best solution for bails that are set too high. If you're wondering what to do when bail is set too high, we'll discuss how bail is determined and the available options for someone struggling with a high bail.
What Is Bail?
When a person is charged with a crime, typically a judge will set a specified bail amount. If that amount cannot be paid by the defendant, they will not be allowed to leave the jail before their next court appearance. For some defendants awaiting trial for serious or complex crimes, this wait time can potentially be multiple months long. In order to get out of jail before the trial, a defendant will need to post the entire bail amount.
What is the purpose of bail? The court system enforces bail amounts to deter people from missing their court dates. When a defendant or their loved one posts a large amount of money, the idea is that the defendant won't skip out on their court date. For this reason, serious crimes are given the highest bail amounts, as the justice system doesn't want the defendant to flee before trial.
How Is Bail Determined?
For most inmate bail amounts, judges issue predetermined amounts based on the charges, flight risk, and the record of the defendant. For minor offenses, the bail is often low. But, for serious crimes, bail may be set high. Additionally, a judge may decide to set a high bail based on the history of the defendant. So, someone who commits a first-time offense will often have a lower bail than someone who has an extensive record of arrests and convictions.
However, a judge may also decide to release an inmate without bail. In this case, a judge will release a defendant on their own reconnaissance and require them to return to court at the specified date. When this happens, it's often for minor offenses or misdemeanors and those without a previous criminal record.
Why Is Posting Bail for Your Loved One Important?
Posting bail is more than just springing your loved one out of jail for a few weeks. The impact of posting jail can have a significant effect on the outcome of your loved one's case. Inside of jail, they will have limited opportunities to help their case or communicate with their legal team. Plus, living at home while awaiting trial is a definite morale booster, which is helpful during this stressful and difficult time for you and your loved one.
What Should You Do If You Can't Afford Bail?
Unfortunately, sometimes inmate bail is set too high for people to pay. This can happen when a defendant is charged with serious or violent crimes or if they have a long criminal history. What can you do when you don't have the cash to pay for your loved one's bail? Luckily, there are a couple of different options available to try to work around a high inmate bail.
If you don't have the cash to post bail, you can turn to a bail bonds company. With this option, you'll need to assume responsibility for the defendant showing up to their court date. If they fail to show up for court, that will mean serious financial consequences for you. Some courts may also hold property as collateral in lieu of a cash bond. When this happens, a defendant will need to show up for their trial, or else they or their loved one will lose their property.
Bail may also be reduced in certain instances. A criminal defense attorney may be able to talk the judge into lowering the bail amount to a more affordable option. If your loved one is facing serious charges, it's better to hire a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible because they can help their client through the arraignment process and often lower the bail amount. Even if they aren't able to lower the bail amount significantly, it's always better to hire an attorney before anything else. Consulting with an experienced criminal attorney will give you and your loved one a better grasp of the complexity and seriousness of the case.
Posting an inmate's bail can be quite high depending on the severity of the crime. When this happens, loved ones may be left wondering how they will navigate a high bail. Posting in cash may not be an option for everyone.
For those who may be struggling financially, opting for a bail bond company may be the best solution. Or, if you have property, you may be able to put that up as collateral. With both of these options, the defendant will absolutely need to appear at their specified court date. If they miss that date, you could be left out of quite a bit of money. You'll also want to be sure to consult a criminal attorney before posting bail, as they may be able to lower the amount. Figuring out what to do when your loved one's bail is high can be stressful. If you're looking for more information about a specific jail or inmate, try our jail search.