Your loved one is in jail and it’s your duty to bail them out, or is it?
I hope you never have the unfortunate experience of having your phone ring in the night only to discover your spouse, significant other, parent, child or other family member is in jail.
Your knee-jerk reaction may be to run down to the jail with your check book and the deed to your house ready to sign over. Before you do that, take a moment to think it through. If you’re unfamiliar with the legal system, there may be some things you aren’t aware of and judgment can be clouded when a loved one is involved.
First, when someone is arrested and placed in custody it is usually because they are suspected of violating the law, but in addition to that they may be held for the protection of themselves and the public. Sometimes, when this safety concern passes, the person is releases without having to post bail. Two perfect examples are DUIs and drunk in public cases. Customarily, assuming there are not aggravating factors such as a collision or bodily injuries involved, once the arrested person sobers up, they are released and told to appear on their own in court.
If they are not being released, you need to ask yourself and answer honestly – is jail the best place for them for right now? Is my bail money better spent on a good attorney who can help protect their rights? Do they need to be in rehab, instead of out and about where they can get into more trouble or even hurt themselves? An attorney can help you find out how serious the charges are, if there is a prior criminal record you may not be aware of and can help provide resources such as rehab and referrals to a bail bondsman.
Other things to consider before posting bail: Things can change very quickly and signing away your money for bail may not be the best way to help. Depending on when the person was arrested, they may be sent to court the very next day. At that point, an attorney can intervene. Sometimes, attorneys can successfully avoid having charges filed, in which case the person would be released without bail. Often times, an attorney can ask the court to release the person “OR” (on their own recognizance), in which case bail is not required. Judges often feel more comfortable doing this when there is a good, reputable attorney involved that will help make sure the person comes to court when they are told. Your attorney is often able to have the amount of bail reduced.
If you found this article because you received that dreaded phone call, I would be happy to help you assess what the best plan is for your loved one. I am available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.