Mistakes happen. Whether it was a lapse in judgment on a rowdy Friday night or a failure to pay a few fines, getting arrested is not the worst thing that can happen to you. You will survive this. It just takes being an adult and paying some bail money.

When Will the Bail Amount Be Set?

Immediately after you are arrested, you will be transported to the nearest jail for processing. This means a police officer will fingerprint you, check for any outstanding warrants in other jurisdictions, and take your picture, or mug shot. 

The next step is your arraignment. You may have to wait a few hours in your jail for this, especially if you need to sober up, or you may have to wait until Monday morning. It depends on your city's procedures. When you are arraigned, an officer will take you before a judge—either in person or via video screen—and inform the judge what crime or crimes you are charged with. The judge will then set bail. 

How Much Is Bail?

The amount of your bail is determined by the judge, who uses several key factors to make their decision. First, they look at the seriousness of the crime that you are accused of. They also take into consideration any past offenses, your overall standing in society, and whether or not you appear to be a flight risk. 

What If I Do Not Have Enough Money to Cover Bail?

If bail is set at a reasonable amount and you can pay, in full, by yourself, you would pay the court and leave. The money will be returned to you once your case is completed. If, however, the amount is more than you have on hand at the moment or more than you can afford to part with, you will need to use a bail bondsman service

What Does a Bail Bondsman do?

A bail bondsman service helps people who have been arrested post bail. Standard procedure for a bail bondsman is to collect ten percent of the bail amount from you, usually in cash. They then pay the entire bail amount at the courthouse and you are free to leave. In other words, if bail is $20,000, you or your family would give the bail bondsman $2,000 and they would pay the additional $18,000.

The entire $20,000 is returned to the bail bondsman company once your case is resolved. Please be advised, however, that your ten percent is not returned to you, but rather kept by the company as payment for helping you with your bail needs. 

Do I Still Need an Attorney?

Yes, you still need an attorney. A bail bondsman does not offer legal advice or represent people in a court of law. They only help with the money portion of your arrest. In fact, you should consider hiring an attorney as soon as you have access to a phone. You will need to find one that specializes in criminal law so they have experience in helping people in your situation.

Is There Anything I Should Do After I Get Bailed Out of Jail?

After getting bailed out and hiring an attorney, your next job is to stay on top of all things court-related. Talk to your attorney regularly and make sure you know all the dates when you are expected to appear in court or pay fines. If you do not show up for a scheduled court date, a bench warrant could be issued for your arrest, which would only compound your problems.  

As a final note, when you appear before the judge for your case, be sure to dress appropriately. Modest, professional business attire is the proper dress code for court. You don't necessarily have to wear a three-piece suit, but jeans and a t-shirt are a big no-no.