How Much Money Do I Need to Post Bail?
After an arrest, the only way to get out of jail is to post bail. The amount you need depends on the crime you allegedly committed and the amount the judge sets it for.
You were arrested, and now you find yourself in jail wondering how you will get out. Your loved ones are trying to find out the cost of your bail that essentially releases you until your trial date. Bail (also known as a bond) is your financial down payment to the court that should ensure that you will come back for your scheduled court date. If you do not show, any money or assets used for that bail is forfeited to the state.
The Judge Sets Your Bail Amount in Albuquerque Courts
You will not have a fixed bail amount. While there are guidelines for judges to consider, judges set the bail amount using judicial discretion. The amount is not announced immediately after your arrest. Instead, it is at your first court appearance where you will either have a bail hearing or your arraignment and bail hearing are together.
Most judges stick to standard practices, such as a set dollar amount for non-violent, petty crimes, and misdemeanors. However, a judge can go higher or lower than the set standard, and other times they may waive bail entirely. If no bail is required, you are being released on your recognizance (O.R.).
Factors the Judge Considers First and Why You Need an Attorney, Right Away
Each case is unique, but most judges will weigh these factors when deciding how much bail is necessary to secure your appearance:
- Bail schedules come first. Before the judge even considers other factors, they will look at the state bail schedule. This puts specific crimes in a bail amount category. Note, these vary by jurisdiction. Some counties use similar bail schedules, while others may have stricter ones or more lenient versions. To pay under the bail schedule, you must request a hearing in front of a judge. This is where you would want a criminal defense attorney to represent you.
- The seriousness of your alleged crime. The most important factor weighed is the nature of the crime and how serious it is. Violent crimes are given much higher bail amounts, and anything that falls under a felony will be higher than something classified as a misdemeanor.
- Your past outstanding warrants or criminal record. If you have substantial warrants out for your arrest (including bench warrants for non-appearance, you have a history of being arrested, or multiple convictions), the judge may feel that you are a threat to society and not grant bail. Likewise, they could allow a higher amount than the schedule because of the risk posed by releasing you. If your history is clean and this is the first offense, you may receive bail lower than the schedule.
- Your tie to the community. Someone with strong ties to the community is less likely to flee than someone without ties. Ties include employment, family, and anything keeping you invested in your city.
- The probability you will show for your scheduled court date. Most importantly, the judge wants to know if you will show for your court hearing. Courts will require a higher bail for anyone who has a history of not showing to court. Likewise, if you are more likely to leave the jurisdiction before your case completes (such as being arrested while you were already on the run), the court may not grant bail or will make the amount high enough to secure your appearance.
How Do You Post Bail and Get Out of Jail?
You have a few options for paying bail and getting out. However, the amount will determine which method works best for you. The options you have include:
- Cash Bond: If you have the entire bail amount in cash, you can do a cash bond. You typically have bail amounts when you are only facing misdemeanor charges, and bail can be as little as $500. You do not have a bail bond agent if you can pay the amount yourself in full.
- Cash Only Bond: The judge may feel that the defendant is a flight risk. In this case, they will issue a cash-only release. This means you cannot use a bail bonds company, and you must pay the entire amount upfront to release. The court does this because they feel that, if someone has to invest their own money truly, they will appear in court.
- Surety Bond: Bonds that are too high, such as one over $15,000 or even a bond of $200,000, is impossible for almost anyone to pay. This is when you will use a bail bonds company to help. Surety bonds are contracts between the payor, the bail bond company, and the court. The defendant or the party paying their bail pay only ten percent in cash, and the bond company guarantees the remainder if the person were to not show in court.
- Property Bond: For higher bail amounts, you can use property as collateral for the court to cover bail, such as your home. However, this is incredibly risky. If you are thinking of using your home as collateral to get a family member out of jail, you should really consider the chances as to whether they would show or flee. Otherwise, you may lose your home.
Speak with an Attorney Regarding Your Bail Needs
If you have been arrested, now is the time to contact an attorney and find out how you can post bail. More importantly, having an attorney by your side when bail is determined is critical. This is because an attorney knows the factors weighed by the judge and how to argue on a client’s behalf for a favorable bail amount.