When you or someone you know is arrested, the court will address the issue of bail. The jurisdiction may have a set bail schedule that the police use, or a judge may set a bail amount during an arraignment. In some situations, you can be released on your own recognizance, meaning you do not need to pay bail to get out of jail. On the flip side of the coin, the court may deny you bail when you are considered a flight risk or danger to the public. For all other situations, you, someone you know or private bail bondsman pays a bond to secure your release from jail and guarantee that you will return to court.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Bailing someone out of jail requires paying the entire bail amount to the court or obtaining a bail bond from a private bail bondsman, which is not available in all states.
Bailing Someone Out of Jail
Paying bail ensures your or the other person’s release from jail. This amount is held by the court until the legal proceeding is complete, which means the charges are dropped, you plead guilty, you negotiate a plea deal, or you go through trial. You must show up for your hearing dates to get the bail amount back (unless a lawyer can represent you without you being present). If you, or an attorney representing you, fail to show up to your hearings, your bail is forfeited to the court. You will be arrested and jailed for the duration of your case.
You are generally entitled to pay bail for yourself. You may pay the whole amount or obtain a bail bond, which enables you to pay only a percentage of the amount. Whether or not you may obtain a bail bond through a private business depends on the rules of your state. Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Oregon, Washington, D.C., and Wisconsin do not allow private bail bonds. If you cannot afford to pay the bail amount, you will have to speak with an attorney about your other options.
In most states, though, you can get a bail bond from a private bondsman. You pay a percentage of the bail amount to this business as a non-refundable fee and it pays the court. If you do not show up to court, the private bail bondsman pays the court the full bail amount and then comes after you, or whoever signed the contract, to pay the full bond amount back with interest.
Posting Bail Online
You (or a relative or friend) may be able to pay bail online. In recent years, a growing number of municipalities have implemented a way for individuals to pay bail online with a credit card. There are also a number of private bail bondsman who offer online processes, which can save you a trip to an office.
How Much Bail Costs
There is no set amount for bail across the nation. How much bail costs depends on a number of factors, including the jurisdiction’s rules, the alleged offense and the individual’s criminal history. The more serious the crime or the greater a person’s risk of not showing up to court, the higher the bail amount is. Bail for significant offenses can be hundreds of thousands of dollars. Less serious and first-time offenses may require only a few hundred dollars in bail.
In many jurisdictions, there are ways in which you only pay a percentage of the bail amount, such as 10 or 15 percent. If your bail is set at $500 for a DUI, you, a family member or friend may be able to pay only $50 for your bail bond.
You Cannot Bail Someone Out of Jail Without Money
Unfortunately, if you, a relative, or friend are required to pay bail to leave jail, you must pay something. There is no way to handle bail without money. However, your attorney can help you review your options to pay as little as possible, including appealing the bail amount with the court.