Arrested? What You Probably Need To Know About Bail

Bail, in all but the rarest of cases, is the only way to get out of jail after an arrest. However, bail amounts can vary from a few hundred dollars to several thousand or even more in extreme cases. What makes bail so variable? Read on and learn more. 

Bail: Useful for Everyone

Bail is used to discourage defendants from disappearing. The thinking is that when money is at stake, people will think twice before skipping their court date. Bail is also useful for the court system because it frees many from jail while they wait for their hearings.

There is no rule forcing defendants to pay bail and be released from jail. However, jail is not a great place to stay for what could turn out to be several months. They are usually overcrowded, dirty, and dangerous. Besides, it's a lot more challenging to fight the charges while in jail. Finally, those who work and have families need to attend to those things outside of jail.

How Bail Costs Are Determined

Bail costs can be confusing. Part of the confusion results from the various ways bail is configured. In some cases, bail is set, and the amounts are posted at the jail for common charges like driving under the influence, reckless driving, and the like. In some areas, bail is set with the help of past data. This somewhat controversial algorithm uses past arrest and compliance data to determine how likely it is for a defendant to return to court. The controversy is that the algorithm uses racially biased data to determine bail amounts. However, bail, in general, uses the following factors to determine the amount:

The crime. If the crime is violent, bail is not as likely since the judge must weigh the safety of the public against a release. Those facing serious crimes and multiple crimes at the same time may also not be offered bail.

The defendant's record. First-time offenders may be offered bail over habitual offenders. If a defendant shows a history of skipping bail, they may be held in jail.

The status of the defendant. Defendants that are employed, live in the area, have family nearby, etc. may be more likely to be offered bail.

What to Do

Being arrested is far more serious than many may think. Even those charged with a misdemeanor and released on bail could be facing severe consequences. Speak to a criminal defense attorney as soon as you are released and get to work planning your defense.