3 Ways to Get Out of Jail Before Your Court Date

If you are arrested for a crime or someone you love is facing this problem, your immediate concern may be trying to find a way to get out before the court date. Depending on your jurisdiction and the severity of the crime, there may be a few options available so a defendant does not have to remain in custody throughout the duration of their trial.

Elimination of Cash Bail

Some states and localities are eliminating the cash bail system for lower-level offenses because the system is typically biased against the poor and people of color. Many people arrested are not able to pay a bail bondsman and do not have family or friends with enough money or collateral to help them. This means they often languish in a state of pre-trial detention for months or even years. During this time, people can lose their access to employment, education, or their family. A significant portion of people in the pre-trial detention stage is also found not guilty at trial, further making cash bail harmful. The cash bail system also increases the chances that people will plead guilty at trial, regardless of their actual guilt, purely to get out of jail if they can acquire a plea agreement for probation and/or community service.

Your Own Recognizance

In rare instances, the judge may release someone on their own recognizance (OR), or in the case of juvenile offenders, they may be released into the custody of their parent or guardian. This situation is less common, except in the case of juvenile offenders. When being released on OR, the type of crime and your background weighs heavily in the decision and there will be significant stipulations that need to be met in order for you to remain out during the pre-trial stage. People that are more likely to be released OR have been arrested for minor, non-violent crimes without any or a limited criminal history. They may also have substantial ties within the community. These ties within the community are seen as being less of a flight risk. When juvenile offenders are released into the custody of the parent or guardian, this places the burden on the adult. They remain responsible for keeping the child out of additional trouble, knowing their whereabouts, and making sure they show up for future court hearings and appointments with a probation officer, if applicable.

A Bail Bonds Agency

A bail bonds agency is usually the last opportunity for a person to get out of jail during the pre-trial phase. Rarely can a defendant pay the entire bond to the court, so they pay 10% bail to the bondsman to help get them out of jail. The bondsman is taking on the liability that the defendant may not appear for their scheduled court dates. If the defendant continues through the court proceedings as normal, they can receive their 10% back from the bondsman. Otherwise, the bondsmen keep the money and any collateral. Some bondsmen also act as bounty hunters in approved states. This means they can track down defendants who missed their court dates and return them to custody. 

Friends and family members who pay a bondsman and/or put up collateral must weigh the decision carefully. If the defendant does not appear in court, not only do they lose any money and collateral they gave to the bondsman, they can also be sued for any remaining balance. Although it is tempting to help someone you care about get out of jail, if they are already known to be irresponsible, it may not be worth the risk of losing your money or home.

Unless releasing a defendant poses a significant risk to the community, there are usually ways they can be released before trial. Many of these options are not only contingent upon the jurisdiction, but the judge's assessment of likelihood the defendant to return for their court date. To learn more, contact a bail bonds agency.