When a person is arrested on a criminal charge, getting out of jail is the main priority. Most people don’t want to remain behind bars from the arrest through the final outcome of the case. The purpose of bail in the criminal justice system is to allow defendants to be released from custody while their cases move through the courts.

There are different factors involved with setting bail in a criminal justice case. Understanding some of those factors affecting the process might help if you are ever in this situation.

Bail vs. own recognizance release

The court must determine whether the defendant is likely to show up for future court dates when deciding on conditions for bail. Some of the most serious crimes, e.g., murder, might not be eligible for bail, or the amount is very high.

The bail amount set by the court must be paid prior to the incarcerated individual being released. In some cases, the person can work with a bail bondsman to get out of jail. Bail bonds agencies charge a preset percentage of the bail amount, usually 10 percent, to secure the arrested person’s release. Once this is done, the bondsman arranges the defendant’s release under the terms imposed by the court.

There is an alternative to bail that courts often use. They have the authority to release defendants on their own recognizance. Defendants sign release documents agreeing to show up for all future court appearances. No money or assets are required for this type of release. Commonly referred to as an “OR release,” this option is usually reserved for those accused of less serious crimes and first-time offenders.

Factors that influence the bail decision

Many factors impact a court’s decision for setting a bail amount. One of these is the person’s criminal history. Those with extensive rap sheets and those who have skipped out on court dates in the past will likely have higher bail amounts than those who don’t have that type of negative history with the court. The type of charge that you are facing also affects the bail possibility and amount, as do your ties to the community. The court uses this information to determine if you are a flight risk.

Conditions of release

The court might impose conditions on your release. These can include having to stay within a specific geographical area or wearing a monitoring device. If you used a bondsman to get out, you might have to abide by additional conditions imposed by them.

It is imperative that you show up to all of your court dates. If you don’t, you could face more legal troubles. If you paid the bail directly to the court, you can get it back if you show up to all the court proceedings until your case is adjudicated. Unfortunately, you won’t get your money back if you use a bondsman.That’s the cost of doing business, but most defendants willingly accept it in order to be released from jail.