3 Options When Bail Is Too High
Most people in the US today have an idea how the bail system works. After a person is arrested, they have the option of either staying in jail until their official court date or paying bail to get out of jail with the promise to show up for court when they are supposed to. Bail bonds companies help many people get out of jail when they wouldn't have been able to otherwise by allowing someone in jail to only have to pay 10 to 15 percent of their bail while the bond company pays the rest. What should you do if you don't have even that percentage of your total bail to provide a bail bond company? Here are three options.
1. Find out if the Bail Bond Company Will Make Payment Arrangements with You
Not all bail bond companies make payment arrangements with customers, as they already ask for so little of the total bail to help customers out. However, some do, and it never hurts to ask if the company you are dealing with will take payments instead of one lump sum. Bond companies that do allow customers to make payments often also do so at their discretion, and they may require a credit check, employment verification, and collateral before they agree to enter into a payment agreement with a customer.
If you don't qualify for a payment arrangement due to your credit history or lack of current job, then you can ask for the help of a family member or close friend who may qualify to make payments when you don't.
2. Petition the Court for Reduced Bail
While setting up a payment arrangement with a bail bonds company can help you get out of jail quickly, petitioning the court to reduce your bail takes a bit longer. You must first request a bail hearing and then wait to see the judge whenever the court can fit your hearing into the judge's schedule. If you have an attorney who you worked with in the past that will not require you to pay them upfront, then it is a good idea to ask them for help with your bail hearing.
The attorney can help you come up with reasons why your bail should be reduced and speak with the judge during your bail hearing. Instead of hearing mainly about your financial hardship and inability to pay the current bail, the judge will be more interested in hearing why you should be trusted to show up for court when next scheduled.
Your attorney can argue that you don't have the funds to leave town, you have strong ties to the community, or that you are the main breadwinner in your family and wouldn't skip town when you need to provide for your family. You and your attorney can present any reason you feel you are trustworthy enough to be released with lower or no bail.
Your attorney can also arrange for witnesses to appear during this hearing that can attest to your trustworthiness or tell the judge that they will monitor your whereabouts and alert the court if they see signs you may be getting ready to leave town.
3. Stay in Jail and Take Advantage of Time Served
While no one wants to be in jail, if you and your family don't have a way to pay for a bail bond and the court does not agree to lower your bail, it is sometimes best to stay in jail until your trial. If you think you will be found guilty or plan to plead guilty, and you know your sentence will likely include jail time, then the time you spend in jail waiting for your hearing will likely be taken off your final sentence as a credit called "time served." That can help keep the total disruption of your life shorter, because in the end, you will get out of jail sooner by staying in jail now and getting some of the jail-time over with.
If you are ever in jail and don't have the cash to put up for bail, then consider these three options for getting out of jail or staying in jail and taking advantage of credit you will earn off your final sentence.
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