If you or a loved one is being held in jail, the bail process can be very confusing. Bail is also very expensive. Consequently, by the time we get a call from family, everyone is pretty frustrated.
Typically, the first question we get is whether it’s worth it to bail the person out of jail assuming a court date is coming up soon. Those outside of jail are also trying to figure out who to call and how to make bail for their loved one. The entire process can be overwhelming.
Generally speaking, most people do not know how bail works nor why we have bail. There are many misconceptions about bail and the confusion often leads to more hours or days in jail for their loved one. Here are just a few facts about bail that might help clear up a misunderstanding or two.
Bail is not for the purpose of punishing defendants.
It may feel like bail is punishment because, often, low income defendants can not post bail and, therefore, must stay in jail while wealthier people can gain freedom. However, the only purpose of bail is to secure an accused person’s presence in court for the next hearing. If the person does not appear at the next court date, the bail is forfeited (you lose your money). Additionally, a warrant for your arrest will be issued.
You do not have a right to bail.
The Eighth Amendment prohibits excessive bail but does not guarantee a right to bail. For example, an accused serial killer would pose too much risk to the community while awaiting trial so a judge has the discretion to deny bail. Likewise, if a person accused of DUI is already facing other criminal charges and has not appeared for those charges (FTA or Failure to appear), a judge is likely to impose a high bail. Depending on the seriousness of the prior charges, the judge might deny bail altogether.
Sometimes, bail can be reduced or waived.
If you know your friend or loved one is being held on a no-bail hold or high bail, you can hire a defense attorney immediately after arrest and before the Arraignment to help with this challenge. An experienced defense attorney might be able to get the charges reduced (dropped from Superior Court to District Court), which could reduce bail or remove the need for any bail.
This option only exists for people who hire private defense attorneys because an accused person in-custody will not be assigned a public defender until the Arraignment—so there is no option for the public defender to try to reduce the charge prior to the initial Arraignment. Additionally, at the Arraignment, a private defense attorney would gather information about the in-custody client so the attorney can make a pitch for lesser conditions of release (i.e. no need for bail based on ties to the community etc.).
Find An Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney In The County You Were Charged
If you are being investigated for a crime or have a loved one being held in jail in Kitsap or Thurston counties or cities in the area, get in touch with one of our attorneys right away. We are here 7 days a week for criminal defense matters.
In many cases, we have been able to save people so much money in reducing bail or having bail completely waived that our legal fee more than paid for itself. If the defendant had waited for a public defender, the bail would have been more than a private defense attorney’s legal fee. The only way to know if a private DUI or criminal defense lawyer can help, is to call for a free consultation. (360) 792-1000