What Happens If I Can't Post Bail?

What Happens If I Can't Post Bail?

If you have been arrested for a crime, the court may set a bail amount, which is how much money you must pay to secure your release from jail while your case is pending. With bail amounts being hundreds of dollars, thousands of dollars, or, in some cases, millions of dollars, it may be hard to come up with the cash, especially because an arrest is usually unexpected.

So what happens if you cannot post bail? Unfortunately, if you cannot afford the bail amount, you must wait in jail until your case concludes. It may be resolved through plea negotiations with the prosecutor or by a verdict returned by a judge or jury. Either way, your criminal case can be lengthy, which means you would have to be in pretrial detention for a while.

How Bail Is Set in Ohio

After your arrest, you will be held in police custody. Getting out of jail requires your paying bail. Essentially, bail is an agreement between you and the court. You pay the amount set by a judge and promise to return for all scheduled hearings until your case is over. Once it is complete, your bail money is returned. If you fail to appear, the money you paid will be forfeit, meaning the court keeps it, and the judge will issue a warrant for your arrest.

Because bail serves as a surety that you will return to court as required, the amount set is usually pretty high – although it cannot be excessive or be a means of punishment. Having a high bail amount ensures that you have an incentive to show up for all proceedings. Losing out on a few thousand dollars will most likely motivate you to be at every hearing.

The amount you will be required to pay for your release from jail depends on several factors. If you have been charged with a misdemeanor, the court may have a set amount listed on a bail schedule. However, for felony offenses, or other misdemeanor cases, a judge will determine what to set bail at.

Their decision will be based on several factors, including:

  • Your criminal history (if any)
  • The severity of the offense you were accused of
  • The possibility that you will flee before trial
  • Your familial or professional obligations
  • The risk you pose to the alleged victim or the community

The Consequence of Not Posting Bail

As noted earlier, if you are not able to pay the bail amount, you must remain locked up until your case is over. Pretrial detention can be seen as an injustice, as it essentially punishes legally innocent people. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, nearly 500,000 people in the U.S. are being held in jail while awaiting trial. The ACLU of Ohio, reports that in 2018, about 12,600 people were in pretrial detention in Ohio. Note that these individuals are not in custody because they have been convicted of a crime. It is simply a matter of them not being able to afford bail.

How long you must wait in jail while your case is pending depends on the situation. The criminal justice process is complex and involves various steps that can take quite a bit of time.

Some of the stages your case may proceed through include the following:

  • Arraignment: This is where you are informed of the nature of the charge and asked to enter a plea. Bail may also be set during this proceeding. The court must schedule this within a reasonable time after your arrest, typically about 48 hours later.
  • Preliminary hearing for felony cases: If you have been accused of a felony, you will be scheduled for a preliminary hearing. The prosecutor will present evidence to establish probable cause that an offense occurred and you were the one who committed it. This proceeding must take place no later than 10 days after your arrest.
  • Discovery: During the discovery phase, the prosecutor will provide your attorney with the evidence they have against you. Your lawyer needs time to review all the information to identify weaknesses and begin building your defense. This can take a considerable amount of time.
  • Pretrial negotiations: Although some criminal cases will go to trial, others will be settled with a plea deal. To seek a favorable outcome for you, your attorney must negotiate with the prosecutor. This back and forth process can be lengthy.
  • Trial date set: If your case is not resolved through negotiations, the court will set a date for your trial. Depending on the court's docket, it could be weeks until the date is scheduled.
  • Trial by jury: The jury selection process takes time. Potential jurors must be briefed and examined before they are chosen to sit on a panel.
  • Trial: Criminal trials can be lengthy. The judge or jury must hear all the evidence and return a verdict. Some cases can last for months or even years.

Hire a Bail Bonds Agency

If you can't afford to pay bail from your own pocket, waiting in jail is not your only option. You can turn to a bail bonds agency to post a bond on your behalf. In Ohio, such companies can only charge a 10% premium for their services. This means you would only have to pay a small portion of your bail amount. So instead of forking over $10,000 in cash to the court, for example, you would owe only $1,000 to the bail bond company, which may be more manageable.

To discuss your options for getting out of jail after an arrest, contactAndy Callif Bail Bonds at (614) 945-4334. We proudly serve Columbus and the surrounding areas.

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