Hearing that a friend or family member has been arrested can be incredibly disconcerting—especially if that person is not a habitual offender. If you’ve never had to deal with having someone close to you end up in jail, the process of getting them out can seem confusing and daunting. Will you need to post bail to get them out, and what, exactly, does that mean? Here are some answers that will help you understand what might be going on and how you can help. If you want additional information, read more on websites that offer bail bonds or legal help.
The Arrest Process
Let’s imagine you have a brother named Phil who had one too many at the bar before unwisely deciding to drive himself home. Because of his erratic driving, he was pulled over by a police officer and arrested for drunk driving. Phil will now be brought to the precinct in which the arrest occurred in order to be processed. Processing involves the collection of identity and personal information, including name, address, birthdate, Social Security number, and more. Phil might also be fingerprinted. He will be searched for any additional items on his person, and then his personal effects will be turned over for safekeeping. Phil will get a voucher for his property so he can claim it later. The officer will check to see if Phil has any outstanding warrants for his arrest or other reasons he has run afoul of the law (including unpaid parking tickets and former DUIs).
If Phil is not released immediately from the precinct, he will be taken to Central Booking, which is located at your local courthouse where he will receive his arraignment (appointment to meet the judge). It is while Phil is at Central Booking that he will undergo some interviews that will later help to determine how much bail will be set, and it is definitely in his best interests if he hires a good lawyer. If you are a close friend or family member who can vouch for Phil’s otherwise outstanding character, you may be asked to show up for the arraignment. At this hearing, the bail amount, if any, will be set, and you will find out if you can get Phil out of jail until his first court appearance.
Getting a Bail Bond
In this hypothetical situation, the judge has determined that Phil will have to pay $1000 to get out of jail until his court appearance. The easiest thing to do is to pay the entire bail amount in cash. After Phil shows up to his court appearance, you will get the money back, minus some administrative fees. If you don’t have the cash on hand, it’s time to visit a bail bondsman. Bail bond companies require you to put up 10%-15% of the total bail amount (in this case, $100 to $150) and will then pay the balance of the amount to the court. To ensure that they get their money, the bail bond company will require cash or some sort of collateral. You won’t get this money or property back, unfortunately, but if you can’t pay the full bail amount, it may be your only option. Make sure Phil pays you back. Also make sure Phil shows up to his court appearance so the bail bond company gets reimbursed for the amount of bail they supplied. Otherwise, they will come after both you and Phil, and they won’t be happy about it.
In Phil’s case, bail was set at $1000 because the judge determined that Phil would show up for his court appearance if he was let out of jail and had to pay that penalty. Once he’s out, it’s important that Phil actually show up for his court appearance or he risks having a warrant issued for his arrest and getting the bail bond company after him. Fortunately, Phil is a good guy and made one stupid mistake that he has vowed never to repeat. You won’t have to worry about bailing him out again, as his stay in jail was incredibly traumatic and scared him straight. Your other brother, Bill, on the other hand, is a different story. For repeat offenders, read more on the internet about getting good legal help and securing bail bonds.