Understanding The Basics Of Dealing With Bail After An Arrest

Posted on: 2 December 2015

If you've been arrested for the first time, the concept of bail may be confusing. You owe it to yourself to understand the bail process before you find yourself in jail, because that's the best way for you to be prepared to deal with the situation. The bail is typically set during your first court appearance. In most cases, that first appearance is your arraignment, while other courts may actually set a specific bail hearing depending on the crime. Here's a look at some of the factors that may influence how your bail is set.

What Affects The Amount Of Bail?

In most cases, your bail determination begins with an evaluation of the crime that you are being charged with. The judge will consider that in addition to any criminal history you may have. He or she will also evaluate your employment status, your ties to the community and other similar factors. If you have never been in trouble before, are an active member of the community, own a house and hold a stable job, chances are good that you'll have a lower bail than someone who has no job, no local ties and a lengthy criminal history. The lack of roots makes someone more of a flight risk, hence the higher bail.

You may be questioned about any potential travel plans, your current access to cash and any access you could have to private transportation like a personal jet. The judge's goal in this discussion is to ensure that you don't have the means to flee the country if you're released on bail. If you have the financial means to travel, the judge may require you to surrender your passport. In extreme cases, your bank accounts may be frozen until your trial as well.

What Is A Bail Schedule?

A bail schedule is a list of bail amounts assigned by local police departments for common or minor crimes. Available in most states, these schedules allow people to post bail directly with the police department or the jail in exchange for immediate release with an upcoming court date for arraignment.

Most of the crimes included on a bail schedule are minor, though some jails offer bail schedules for felonies. In most cases, any bail schedule published for felonies includes much higher amounts than what is required for a misdemeanor. The more serious the crime in question, the higher you'll typically find the bail amount to be. Although most judges have some flexibility in the bail assignment if you go to court, the bail schedule posted in the jail has no flexibility at all.

What Effect Can The Police Have On Bail Amounts?

The officer who arrests you plays an important role in determining the bail that you end up paying. He or she determines the charge you're being arrested for, which will affect the bail that you have to pay. Some police departments will arrest you on the most serious charge that qualifies, while others opt to be more forgiving and arrest you on a lesser charge. When you're arrested on a lesser charge, you may be able to make bail more easily than if the officer opts for the more serious option. As an alternative, you may be able to negotiate the charge to a lesser one when you go to court for your arraignment.

Now that you understand what can affect your bail amount, you'll want to make every effort to identify how much your bail is right away. Then, you can reach out to a local bail bonds broker to help you post your bail and get you out of jail right away.