- 4 Ways to Get Out of Jail
Promise to appear – The defendant may be released on his or her own recognizance – by signing documents agreeing to return for all court hearings – if he or she hasn’t been convicted before, the offense is not serious and there is no history of missing any court appearances. The defendant, usually with the help of a criminal defense attorney, can request a promise to appear from the court.
Cash bond – A cash bond must cover the entire amount of bail set in the case. Because of that, it is most commonly used for misdemeanor offenses, when the bail is often $2,500 or lower. A co-signer can also be used. If the defendant shows up for all court hearings, the cash bond is returned, minus only some fees and court costs.
Surety bond – For more serious crimes, few defendants are able to afford to pay the entire amount of bail in cash. A surety bond is a contractual relationship with a bail bond company. The company guarantees the entire amount of the bail but only charges a 15 percent premium – as determined by the North Carolina Department of Insurance. That premium is nonrefundable. The bail bond agent often will require collateral and more than one co-signer can be used.
Property bond - This involves turning over the mortgage to a home or real estate that must be located in the state, although it does not have to be in the specific county where the court is located. A significant amount of paperwork is required – including a statement from the lender showing the balance owed on the property and a document from the county tax office showing the tax value of the property. The equity in the property must be at least equal to the amount of bail in the case to be accepted.
- How to Get Bail
All defendants will be given the opportunity to make a phone call after the booking process into jail has been completed. At this point, the defendant can post a cash bail – if he or she has enough money – or contact a family member or friend to help with the bail process. The defendant can also decide to contact a bail bond company directly from jail for a surety bond or property bond.
- What Will Bail Cost
North Carolina law requires that all bail bond companies charge a 15 percent premium for their services. Some companies will offer payment plans for higher bail amounts. In addition to the 15 percent premium, the only other costs for bail are relatively minor state charges and court fees.
- How Long Will I Stay in Jail
That depends on a couple of factors. If the amount of bail must be set by a judge or bail commissioner that can sometimes involve a delay. The state has a bail schedule for most misdemeanor crimes, but more serious crimes usually require a bond hearing. For a misdemeanor with a preset bail amount, a defendant may only spend 2 to 5 hours in jail. However, a defendant arrested at night or on the weekend may have to wait until the next morning to post bail. Defendants can request that a bail commissioner be summoned to set bail. The cost for this service is $40.
- What if I Miss a Court Appearance
The court will immediately issue a bench warrant for the defendant, who now faces a second offense in addition to the crime that put him or her in jail in the first place. At the same time, the court will require the entire bail amount from a bail bond agent. The agent will then pursue collection of the full bail amount from the defendant and any co-signer. The bail bond company likely will send out an employee to try to bring the defendant back to court save some or all of the bail forfeiture charge.