So you’ve been arrested.
Things may not be going you’re way now, but you are certainly not without your options. With just a few of these life-saving tips, paying bail will prove to be a surprisingly smooth and hassle-free process.
Keep reading to learn exactly how to take control of your experience in the criminal justice system.
What is Bail and How Does it Work?
When you are arrested anywhere in the state of North Carolina, you are legally required to be booked in a local jail.
This is where bail comes into play.
Bail is essentially a means of ensuring that an accused person will show up for their court date without the need for holding them in a cell for the months preceding the start of the trial. This system allows those accused by the criminal justice system to resume their daily life, without the inconvenience of missing work or school.
For minor offenses and misdemeanors, bail is most often set by an algorithm (known as a bond schedule) at the jail. For more serious offenses like assault and manslaughter – Judges set the bail amount at an arranged hearing. In both cases, bail is generally set within 48 hours after the arrest and booking.
Bail can be paid by the accused or any third party (like a bail bondsman) immediately after the amount is set, with the release process taking an average of 1-2 hours.
Your Options for Paying Bail
When it comes to actually paying the bail amount, you may have more options than you would think.
A variety of factors, including criminal history, nature of the offense, the likelihood of the defendant to flee before the trial, a defendant’s financial resources, and the possibility of a threat to others are taken into account by the deciding body when determining the bail amount.
Once bail has been granted, a person has four options:
- A Bail Bond – facilitated by a bail bondsmen, a bail bond is a form of surety whereas the bondsman posts the bail for the individual in exchange for a non-refundable fee. This option often proves to be the most convenient for the vast majority of people. In North Carolina, bail bondsmen generally charge no more than 15% of the total bail amount depending on the specific individual.
- Pay in Cash – An individual accused of a crime is allowed to post the full amount of the bail in cash. This is the least utilized option on the list as the requirement to pay the whole amount upfront in cash is generally financially impossible for the bulk of the population.
- Release on One’s Own Recognizance – This option is free and requires no direct form of collateral to be given to the court. However, it is largely reserved for individuals with extremely limited criminal histories who can prove that they are a minimal flight risk.
- A Property Bond – A useful option for a person who owns, or has access to a substantial amount of personal property. It requires no other money to be put down, however if the individual fails to appear in court their property can be seized by the state and a warrant will be issued for their immediate arrest.
Being arrested and booked in a local jail can be one of the scariest and most stressful experiences in a person’s life. Taking charge of the situation and knowing your options frequently proves to be the deciding factor in a person’s ability to successfully pay bail.
Applying whichever option is personally best for you as quickly as possible is often the best means of paying bail and getting out of jail as soon as possible. Don’t be a victim of the system – be sure to take advantage of this information, and make the right choice for your future.