How to Bail Someone Out of Jail

Authored by Wendy Witt, Esq.

On television you see criminal defense lawyers coming to the jail and next thing you know, the detainee is walking out the front of the jailhouse. It may look like the attorney bailed him (or her) out. However, that's not the case in real life. No criminal defense attorney will bail your loved one out of jail. Instead you need to post bail yourself or hire a bail bonds service.

Why Does the Judge Set Bail?

If a loved one has been arrested and is being detained, the judge has likely set bail to better ensure your loved one will return for required court appearances. The judge sets the bail amount after considering the seriousness of the alleged offense and any flight risk.

  • The higher the risk, the higher the bail amount.
  • The lower the risk, the lower the bail amount.

Though bail is usually set, if the judge feels the detainee is a threat to himself or to anyone else, including the general public, bail may be denied. This means that your loved one must stay in jail until the case is over.

How Do I Bail My Loved One Out of Jail?

If a loved one is being detained and bail has been set, you have two choices: You can post bail yourself or you can purchase a bail bond through a bail bonds service.*

  • Posting Bail: If you post bail yourself, you will have to go to the jail where your loved one is being held, fill out all of the paperwork, deal with the jailers, and put up 100% of the bail money. You get the bail money back if your loved one shows up for all court appearances; if not, you lose all of your money.
  • Purchasing Bail Bond: If you purchase a bail bond, you can do so from anywhere in the world - even home in your jammies - you need to provide basic information, but the bail bonds service will fill out the forms for you, deal with the jailers and put up the bail money.

    The fee for a bail bond is usually 10% of the bail amount and that pays for their services - you do NOT get the bond fee back. You are at risk for the full bail amount if your loved one doesn't appear in court as required.

*In some cases, the judge sets bail but does not allow a bond to be posted. In those cases, the detainee or his/her family must post the full bail amount. If a detainee can't make bail, he/she says in jail.

Where Do I Buy a Bail Bond?

If you're already at the jail, there's likely a bail bond service nearby. If you're at home or anywhere else, you can ask your criminal defense lawyer for a referral or do an Internet search for the city where your loved one is being held and "bail bonds".

Many bail bond companies offer bail by phone so you don't have to go to their office. Their number will be online.

Where Do I Find a Criminal Defense Attorney?

If asking a friend for a referral isn't a good fit, you're welcome to use your free and private website (www.attorneys.org). When you use our site, you're entitled to a free case evaluation from any one of the criminal defense lawyers listed.

In the alternative, you can ask the bar association for a list of criminal defense lawyers.

How Much Do Bail Bonds Cost?

Bail bond fees are set by law, so all bail bond services will charge the same fees.

  • The bond fee for county and state cases is 10% of the bail amount.
  • The bond fee for immigration or federal cases is 15% of the bail amount.

Because all bond services must charge the same fees, it makes sense to go with an established, experienced, and highly reputable firm.

If I Can Bail My Loved One Out of Jail Myself, Why Should I Buy a Bail Bond?

The decision whether to post bail or to purchase a bail bond is totally yours.

The benefits of purchasing a bail bond would be:

  • Full access to large sums of money 24/7/365.
  • Experience and systemized process.
  • You don't have to deal with the paperwork or the jail.
  • You can purchase a bail bond from home or anywhere in the world.
  • The bail bonds service is likely to get your loved one out of jail faster than you could.

The drawbacks of purchasing a bail bond would be:

  • The 10% (or 15%) fee for the bail bond service.

Where Do I Get More Information on Bail Bonds and Criminal Defense Attorneys?

We don't sell bail bonds and neither do the attorneys on our attorney referral site; we're just providing educational information that others in your situation have found helpful.

Once you choose a criminal defense attorney, your attorney will be able to evaluate the case against your loved one and guide you toward a bail bonds service that can answer all of your questions.

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