At Abogados Cabo we know that, when you are arrested, you probably only think of one thing: How to get out of jail as soon as possible? In general, getting out of jail is accomplished by paying an established amount of money as a “bail” or by serving the established time of the sentence.
Bail is usually cash or property of monetary value that you give to the court in exchange for your promise to appear when ordered to do so.
Generally, if you appear in court when you are supposed to after you are released from jail, the court will return the bail money to you. However, if you do not appear, the court will keep your bond and will probably issue a warrant for your arrest, which means you will go back to jail.
The Bail Determination Process
If you must see a judge at a bail hearing, you will probably spend some time in jail. However, if you are arrested for a common type of crime, detention centers usually have a chart that can be used to determine the total bail amount, and to get out you only have to pay the amount of money you need.
It is prohibited to set an excessive amount of bail against detainees, the bail is intended to ensure that the bail is not used for a purpose other than to ensure that a person charged with a crime appears in court at the appointed time.
Bail cannot exceed a reasonable amount to achieve that purpose. Despite the theory behind the eighth amendment, judges often set high bail amounts in criminal proceedings to prohibit an arrestee from being released from jail. This type of excessive bail is generally used for people who have been arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking, homicide, or other serious crimes for which escape is highly likely.
There are also cases where bail is set at a reasonable amount, but the arrestee is still unable to pay it. When this happens, the detainee must wait to ask the judge to reduce the bail amount at a special hearing or during the defendant’s first court appearance. Depending on your special situation, the judge may choose to lower your bail amount, which may make it easier for you to get out of jail.
When you “post bail,” you are paying the amount that was set for your bail. This can usually be done within a few days, including:
- Payment by cash or check for the bail amount.
- The assignment of title rights to property having a pecuniary value equal to or greater than the amount of your bond.
- The delivery of a guarantee (a promise to pay if you fail to appear) for the full amount of your bond.
- Signing a statement that you will appear in court at the proper time, usually called a “release on recognizance.
Generally, if you can be released on your own recognizance, you should try to take advantage of that option. However, many people are forced to purchase a bail bond in order to get out of prison. A bail bond is very similar to a check that you give to a friend and ask him or her not to deposit it until you tell him or her that you can.
If you appear in court and meet all of your requirements, you will usually be refunded the full amount of the bail bond (minus some minor administrative fees from the court).
As mentioned above, if you have the option of parole, you should take advantage of this opportunity. In general, to obtain parole on your own recognizance, you must simply sign a document agreeing to appear in court when ordered to do so. To be released on your own recognizance, you will probably have to request it at your first bail hearing in front of a judge. If this request is denied, you can always request a lower bail amount.
Certain factors may lead a judge to release you on your own recognizance, and many of them have to do with your ties to the place where you were arrested. Factors that may justify your request for release on your own recognizance include:
- Having close family members who reside near where you were arrested.
- Having grown up or lived at the place of your arrest for a number of years.
- Having a job near where you were arrested.
- Have no criminal record, even misdemeanors.
- Have a good record of court appearances when you had to appear in court in the past.
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