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What Can You Do If You Can't Afford Bail?

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When you're arrested for a minor crime, you may be released on the scene after being given a citation and a court date. If you're arrested for a more significant crime, you may be held in jail. Bail is money that you can pay to get out of jail while you wait for your court date. Once you've paid bail, the only way to get your money back (minus a small administrative fee) is to appear in court. Common crimes have scheduled bail fees, but not everyone can afford to pay the scheduled bail amounts. If you are arrested but can't afford the bail, you have options.

Get a Bail Bond

A bail bond is a guarantee made by a third party that states that the arrested person will appear in court on the set date. Bail bonds are offered by businesses that specialize in this kind of service. In order to get a bail bond, the arrested person or a loved one of the arrested person must pay a percentage of the original bond amount. While this amount might be much more affordable than the original bail, it is not refunded when the person appears in court.

In addition, the third party could require something valuable to be put down as collateral at the time the bond is purchased. This item could be a car or a piece of valuable jewelry. If the person fails to show up in court (known as "jumping bail"), the valuable property may be kept and the bail jumper tracked down by a bounty hunter.

Ask Your Criminal Law Attorney to Negotiate for You

In some cases, criminal law attorneys are able to negotiate for their clients at the time of the first court hearing. The attorney may be able to negotiate a lower bail, or may have the bail dropped entirely. Dropping the bail charges happens on a case-by-case basis known as "his own recognizance" (or O.R.).

Negotiating a lower bail is almost always the more affordable option, since bail money is returned when the defendant shows up for the court date. Working with a criminal law attorney can help you lower your bail.

For more information about this topic and other arrest-related topics, contact a skilled criminal law attorney like Kirsten Swanson Atty in your area. He or she will be able to answer questions you may have about your case. Your attorney will also help you negotiate the criminal justice system during your trial.