- 4 Ways to Get Out of Jail
Personal recognizance – This option is preferred under state law; however, court officials must be certain that a defendant is not a flight risk and also poses no threat to any member of the community. No bail is set under this option. The defendant signs an agreement promising to return for all scheduled court hearings.
Unsecured bond – While it is not uncommon to place conditions with a PR release, another option is to establish bail but not require the payment unless the defendant violates bail conditions. The defendant also signs this agreement, which can be enforced by the court if the defendant does not show up for a court appearance or violates another condition of bail.
Cash bond – A defendant has the option of paying the entire amount of bail with a cash bond. The advantage to a cash bond is that a surety agent – and the 10 to 15 percent premium allowed by Virginia law – is not involved. However, even misdemeanor bails can be costly, and the cash spent on bail could be better used by some defendants to hire a lawyer.
Surety bond – If a defendant doesn’t qualify for a PR release or an unsecured bond, and cannot afford to pay the entire amount of bail in cash, the next option is to hire a bail bond agent. Under a surety bond, the defendant enters into a contract involving the bail bond company, the court and any co-signer who may be acting on behalf of the defendant. The advantage to a surety bond is the cost – only 10 to 15 percent of the bail. This amount is the cost of doing business with the bail bond company and is not returned. The bail bond agent guarantees the entire amount of bail to the court. If the defendant does not show up for all court hearings, both the defendant and any co-signer are legally liable for the entire amount of the bail.
- How to Get Bail
Whether you have been arrested based on an action observed by police or on the basis of an arrest warrant, the first step is the booking process. This involves fingerprinting, a mug shot and answering a number of questions so that you can be processed into the jail facility. Only after this takes place can a defendant post cash bail or contact a family member or friend to assist in the bail process.
- What Will Bail Cost
For defendants posting cash, the only costs are relatively minor state charges and court fees. A bail bond agent will generally charge 10 percent of the bail amount, and can also include the cost of “reasonable fees” as part of bail charges. If a defendant does not show up for all court hearings, a defendant and co-signer will be responsible for the entire amount of bail.
- How Long Will I Stay in Jail
That varies based on a number of factors, including the time and location of arrest. Booking and the processing of bail takes longer in larger jail facilities. Also, a defendant arrested late at night or on the weekend may have to wait until the next morning for bond to be set by a magistrate – although video conferencing is available to minimize any delays. The process can take longer for more serious crimes, particularly if a defendant chooses to request a bond reduction hearing.
- What if I Miss a Court Appearance
It is possible to explain to a judge that a single missed court appearance was not intentional. However, a defendant who misses a court appearance and doesn’t quickly notify court officials triggers a bail forfeiture process. The defendant and any co-signer become legally liable for the entire amount of the bail. The bail bond company may decide to hire a bounty hunter to find and bring the defendant back to court. The costs incurred by the bounty hunter must be paid by the defendant and/or co-signer. At the same time, the court will issue an arrest warrant for failure to appear.
The information contained above is for informational purposes only. If you need legal advice you should visit an attorney.