When someone finds him- or herself arrested, concerns may arise about getting out of jail. Persons arrested for the first time may be unsure how the Pennsylvania courts work, and the concept of bail might be a mystery. Even those who have dealt with the criminal justice system multiple times might remain confused about posting bail or the way to do so. Generally, bail follows a straightforward process based on taking several steps.
Posting bail to secure a release from jail
After an arrest, the accused will end up in the local jail awaiting an appearance in court. The first court appearance may afford a defendant the chance to post bail, which is a monetary “security deposit” that allows the accused to leave jail until a trial concludes.
A person’s trial might not take place for several weeks or months. So, posting bail to leave jail pending the trial could provide someone with the freedom to take care of routine activities or work with a defense attorney.
Paying the amount for which the bail is set secures a release. When the defendant shows up in court to stand trial, the court returns that amount. Those unable to afford bail could work with a bail bondsman. The bondsman accepts a fee, usually a percentage of the bail amount, to post the bond. If bail amounts to $2,000, the defendant may owe the bail bonding company $200 for their services. If the defendant fails to show up in court, the company would forfeit the total amount, and the defendant would be liable for the debt. Such an obligation is usually assured by collateral, such as a house.
Working with an attorney
Calling an attorney as soon as possible could move the bail process along more quickly. A criminal defense attorney may recommend a bail bond company and be able to contact the bondsman right away.
Bond might not always be necessary. The court will sometimes release a defendant on their own recognizance. However, a criminal defense attorney may need to argue a compelling reason for the court to agree to such an arrangement.
In other situations, bail may be unavoidable, but the amount might end up lowered by the judge. An attorney could convince the court to lessen the requirement.
An attorney could help a client with understanding bail and criminal law. Securing bail may allow a defendant to carry on with life until a trial date arrives.