When Bail Breaks Your Budget: What To Do If You Cannot Afford To Pay Bail

After an arrest, the judge will set bail for the arrested individual. The goal of bail is to make sure that the accused appears in court to face the charges. If you do not have the money to cover bail for a friend or loved one, you need to understand your options.

1. See If a Bail Reduction is Possible

As mentioned earlier, bail is intended to act as security that the accursed does not skip court. As long as the arrested individual appears in court, you receive the full amount of your bail payment back, less any administrative fees. Bail is not intended to punish the arrested person.

How the judge sets bail varies based on the jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions have a set schedule that they use when setting bail for common offenses; the schedule includes items such as prior arrests, prior convictions, and the severity of the charge. 

However, in other counties, the judge has more personal leeway when setting bail. Factors such as the defendant's criminal history, involvement in the community, and job history are taken into account.

If you believe that the bail is excessive, you can have an attorney file a motion for reduction. Your attorney will have to provide reasons as to why the bail is excessive (such as arguing that the defendant is a low flight risk or that the bail is more than the amounts set for other similar cases).

2. Utilize the Service of a Bail Bondsman

If the judge refuses to reduce the amount of the bail or it is still unaffordable even after the reduction, you can use the services of a bail bondsman to reduce what you have to pay to get your loved one out of jail.

To use a bail bondsman, you only have to pay a certain percentage of the bail (usually 10 percent). The bail bondsman covers the rest. For example, if bail is set at $8,000, you will pay $800 and the bail bondsman pays the remaining $7,200. 

You do not receive the percentage that you pay back. Instead, this goes to the bail bondsman to cover fees associated with using the service. If the defendant skips court, the bail bondsman is the one who does not receive the bail back. You are not on the hook for any more money, regardless of the defendant's behavior. The bail bondsman will handle tracking down the defendant.

Most bail bondsmen take a number of different payment methods, including cash and credit cards. Having the option to use credit can give you a little bit more time to determine how you are going to fit the 10 percent bond fee into your budget. Contact a company, like Betty Bail Bonds, for more help.