Criminal Law Specialist

Certified by the State Bar of California

Board of Legal Specialization 

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How to Get Out of Jail

I always consider it my first duty to get my client out on his own recognizance or on bail, if it is possible.  You will feel better and look better.  You can go to work and/or get into rehabilitation.  It is easier for you to help me work on your case. 

1.  Getting out of jail on your own recognizance. 

     When you are arrested for a crime, the arresting officer decides the charges.  The bail on your charges is fixed by the jail staff.  They look at what is called the bail schedule for each of the offenses for which you are charged, add them up, then come up with the amount of bail that is set.  The arresting officer may ask a judge to set bail beyond the schedule.  Very serious charges are set at “no-bail.”

     Some charges permit release on your own recognizance or “O.R.”  This means you could be let out of jail
without having to post bond.  You must sign an agreement to come back to court at a designated date, time and

     If you have not been released or posted bond after having been arrested you have a right to see a magistrate, or judge within 48 hours, which does not include weekends or holidays.  This means that if you are arrested on a Friday night it is likely you will not see a judge until Tuesday the following week.

     When you see the judge it is called an arraignment.  Between the time you were arrested and your arraignment, the District
Attorney will have reviewed the case to see if they will charge it.  If the District Attorney declines to file charges at this time, you will be set free, but the DA can review it and file at any time up until the statutory period of limitations has run.

     If the DA files charges, at the arraignment the judge will review the case and set an appropriate bail based upon the charges that were filed.  This can be above or below the amount set by the jail.

     At the arraignment your lawyer can ask for your release on your own recognizance even if the bail schedule asks for a higher amount.  It is important your attorney has time to review your job status, family ties to the community, and other issues of concern for the judge prior to your arraignment.  However, just having your lawyer there at the arraignment shows you are invested in your case, that you are therefore less of a flight risk and that he should set you free on your O.R. or at a reduced bail amount.

2.  Posting bail through a bondsman. 

     If you have to post bail, there are three ways of doing it.  The first way is to use the services of a bail agency.  The bail agent usually charges ten percent of the bail amount to post for you.  This ten percent is not carved in stone so it would be wise to negotiate with the agency for a lesser amount.  Some agencies require one half the premium to be paid up front and allow you to make payments on the rest.  Some will give you even more liberal terms. It is a good idea to shop around and negotiate.

3.  Depositing bail with the court. 

     The second way to post bail is by depositing the total amount of bail with the court.  The advantage of posting cash bail is that after the case is over, the entire amount of bail is returned to the person who deposited it.  The disadvantage of using cash for bail is that most people cannot afford this option.  Additionally if the case goes on for a long time it may cost more in interest than it is worth.  You also risk the loss of the money by using it for bail.  The government gets very greedy when someone accused of a crime uses a large amount of cash for bail.  The police may investigate the source of the money in hopes of showing in was gotten illegally so that they can seize it.  There could also be scrutiny by the Franchise Tax Board or the IRS.  It is best to consider carefully with your attorney the use of cash for bail.

4.  Using property for bail. 

     The third way of posting bail is by posting a property bond.  The owner of the deed temporarily transfers the deed to the court. The value of the equity in the property has to be worth twice the amount of bail being posted.  Using property for bail is a fairly complex procedure.  It requires a title report, an appraisal by a license California real estate appraiser, and proof of insurance.  The person who wants to use property for bail will have to complete an application with the County Clerk’s Office.  The estimated time for a successful property bail is a week to ten days. 

Eric A. Dumars

Attorney at Law