“How they hell do I get out of here?” is a better title for this post.
Depending on what the police accuse you of doing, the date, and the time, you will be released in a couple of hours or you will be held for up to 48 hours to face the judge for the first time. When you are released or at this first hearing, called an arraignment, you will be informed of the charges against you and will be asked for your plea, either guilty or not guilty. Then, depending on the charges against you, there will be a discussion about whether bail will be set, or not set, and how much that bail will be.
The judge generally has three options when it comes to bail. The first option is no bail, which is reserved for serious crimes and usually involves some sort of danger to the community or flight risk. The second option is to set bail along a set schedule. Each county has a proposed schedule based on the type of crime and the charges. Typically, the bail will be set at the amount shown for the most serious charge. (This may vary county to county) The third option is some form of own recognizance, either own recognizance or supervised own recognizance.
The purpose of bail is to make sure that the person will come back to court when they say they will. If you, or your attorney, do not make your appearances, a judge will issue an arrest warrant for you and your bail is subject to forfeit. There are multiple ways to make bail, but the most common is the cash bond. This is where a bail bondsman comes in.
A bail bondsman is someone who has cash on hand to bail you out. The way it typically works is that the bail bondsman will post a bond to the court and you will pay the bondsman some percentage of the bail (typically 10% but some bail bondsman offer less depending on discounts and if you have an attorney). This percentage can usually be paid with a down payment and future smaller payments. For example, if you commit a crime and have your bail set at $50,000 and the bail bonds charges 10%, you will have to pay the bail bondsman $5,000 along a schedule the two of you work out.
Once the trial is over or the case is resolved, the bail bondsman receives their bond back and the client continues to pay until the agreed amount is paid off. If you do not make it to court, some bail bondsman will hire an investigator or bounty hunter to make sure the client is returned to court if they do not appear in court (also known as skipping or jumping bail).
(That is where Dog the Bounty Hunter comes in.)
if a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest. ~benjamin franklin~
Disclaimer: Nothing here is meant to create an attorney client relationship. These posts are meant for general information (or humor) only. Ralph Robles Jr. practices in San Jose, CA and many of these posts deal with CA law, it may be different in your state or even county.