There are typically four ways to get out of jail after an arrest. This is called “posting bail,” and it can be done in a few ways: 1) Paying a set bail amount by cash or check (friends or loved ones can also come to the police station and pay this for you); 2) Signing over ownership rights to property instead of using money; 3) Giving a bond in the total amount of your bail (this is essentially a legally-binding promise to pay the money if you don’t appear for your court date) or 4) Signing a statement promising to come to court at the required time (this is called released “on your own recognizance” or O.R. bond)
Posting bail usually consists of cash or a piece of property with cash value. You give the money or property to the court and promise to return for your court date(s). When you show up to your set court date, the court will return your money or property.
If you decide not to attend your court date, the courts will keep your money or property. They will likely issue a warrant for your arrest, which means you may be caught by law enforcement officers and be placed back in jail. A bail bond works similarly, but the money comes from a third party or company. Some people have the option to be released on their own recognizance. This may depend on the criminal charges you are facing.
When you are arrested, you will likely spend some time at the police station while they process your information. Police officers cannot hold you indefinitely. Within a certain time, they must initiate a criminal case. .
If the police make a decision to arrest you and the Prosecutors office decides to file a criminal charge, you can leave once your bail amount is decided and posted. Sometimes people are arrested over a weekend when judges are not working. Being arrested on a Friday often means spending the weekend in jail and seeing a judge on Monday to set bail. You might need to wait until the judge returns to work on a Tuesday if that Monday is a holiday.
A bond promises you will show up for your court date. You give it to the courts; they do not cash it if you show up for your court date. This service is not free, however.
It is typical for the bond’s purchase price to be 10% of the value. For example, if your bail is $5000, you will pay about $500 to purchase a bail bond. This $500 is not refundable but allows the bail bond company to loan you the $5,000 to set bail and leave jail.
Purchasing a bail bond has risks and consequences. If you post bail, appear in court, and meet all the court-ordered requirements, you usually get the full bail amount returned to you. There are typically some small administrative fees you do not get back from the court.
Bonds can be costly but are sometimes the only option. Buying a bail bond will cost 10% of your bail amount, and you may need to provide other assurances to the bail bond company or bondsperson (historically called a “bail bondsman”). They may ask for collateral, like a car title, to ensure you show up to court.
The bondsmen is putting themselves at risk by giving you a loan and hoping you show up to court. They lose the $7,000 they lent you if you do not attend your court date because the court keeps that money. To recover their lost money, they cash in on the collateral. A bondsmen or bond company will sell your car since they have the title and take the money from the sale.
Release on your own personal recognizance means that you do not need to post any bond, as long as you promise to appear at all future court proceedings. A PR release must be requested at one at your first court appearances before a judge. The first appearance may also be referred to as arraignment, even though these are different things. You can ask for a lower bail if your PR release request is denied.
If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So, it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer. SQ Attorneys can be reached at (425) 359-3791 and/or (206) 441-0900.