How to Bail Someone Out of Jail

When a loved one is arrested for a crime, concerns about the situation may arise. Bailing that individual out of jail will require an understanding of how the system works and the laws that must be upheld before paying the fees. Although each state has different laws and regulations, certain factors are common when you are bailing someone out of jail.

Crime and Legal Requirements

The type of crime will often dictate the process of bailing a loved one out of jail. Different crimes will have a different set of rules and regulations. For example, driving under the influence of alcohol may require the individual to stay in jail for a set amount of time before being taken before a magistrate and finding out the terms. Other crimes, such as an attempted burglary, might require more or less time.

The exact amount of time before the bail amount is available will depend on the state, legal factors and the specific situation. In many cases, it may take several hours or a few days before bail is set and it is possible to get that individual out of jail.

Pay attention to the state laws when you are trying to get a loved one out until his or her trial. State laws will ultimately dictate the duration of time required before the case is put in front of a magistrate and the amount is determined.

Setting the Bond

After the individual is arrested, he or she will go before a local magistrate. Depending on the situation, the crime and the residence of the individual, the process of setting bail might vary slightly. For example, an individual who lives in the county may be allowed to sign for his or her bond in certain situations, but someone who is a resident of a different county than the court might require a loved one to bail him out of jail.

A magistrate will set the bond based on the individual’s criminal record, the severity of the suspected crime and the specific situation. For misdemeanors, the bond is usually lower than the typical amount required for a felony. Severe crimes will usually set a high bail amount, even if it is a first offense due to the danger of the individual.

Working With a Bondsman

When you a posting bail for a loved one, you are reassuring the court that he or she will show up for the court case. Although you are paying a certain amount, it might not be necessary to pay the full cost of the bond.

Call a bail bondsman. Working with a bail bondsman means that you will only pay a certain percentage of the bond, but only if it is approved by that individual. A bondsman will ask several questions about the situation and the individual involved before any action is taken. You will also need to fill out appropriate paperwork with the bondsman before your request is approved.

Depending on the state, county and the legalities involved, working with a bondsman means that you will pay roughly 10 to 15 percent of the total bond that was set by the magistrate. It will make it easier for you to pay the amount, particularly if the bond is higher than you can easily pay out of pocket.

Paying the Full Amount

If a bondsman does not approve your request or you are unable to get ahold of a bondsman in a timely manner, then it might be necessary to pay the full amount of the bail to get a loved one out of jail. Paying the full amount means that you will go to the appropriate court or office and pay the amount in cash.

For a large amount that you cannot afford to pay, you can also use an asset to pay the bond. The court will accept a house or similar property as long as appropriate documentation is provided to show proof of ownership.

The downside of using a personal asset or property is the risk. If a house is signed over to the court and a loved one does not show up for the case, then the court is legally able to take that asset. It is best to avoid the use of personal assets if it is possible.

Return of Funds

Posting bail for a loved one does not necessarily mean that you will never see the funds again. A cash bond is refunded in full or part after the court case is complete. Certain additional fees and some forms of bonds are not returned, so ask at the court before posting bail.

Bailing a loved one out of jail is not necessarily complicated, but it can take time and might require some additional paperwork. Before you post bail, talk to your local sheriff's office to find out the laws related to the specific crime.