You’re woken by that dreaded sound of the telephone in the middle of the night. As you jump up from your sleep, you know something is wrong, and you’re just hoping for the best as you run to answer the telephone. Thankfully, no one is hurt, but you’ve just learned that someone you love has been arrested. They need your help. So, what do you do now?
If your loved one has been arrested for a crime, especially for a felony, they will be slated or booked into the local county jail. This means that an official record of their name and other personal details has been made. The officer will record details about the alleged crime, check fingerprints, take photographs, check for criminal backgrounds, etc.
Once booking is completed, it’s time to start thinking about getting out of jail. Authorities want to make sure that the prisoner shows up for any future court dates that are scheduled, and they do this by issuing a bail or a bond. Your loved one will need your help throughout this bail process, as It’s often difficult to make arrangements that require communication from inside of a jail cell. So here’s what you need to know:
In Ohio, there are three types of bonds:
Best case scenario, the prisoner will be released on their own recognizance. This is called an Unsecured or Recognizance Bond and it means that the prisoner promises (in writing) to appear at any future court dates, but they don’t have to make any payments in order to get out of jail. If the prisoner doesn’t show up for said court dates, a warrant will be issued for their arrest. When deciding whether to release an inmate on their own recognizance, factors such as the seriousness of the crime, past criminal record, and whether or not they pose as a danger to the community will be considered.
If the promise of the prisoner showing up for court is not enough, then a bail will be set. Bail is an amount of money that’s required to pay in order to be released from jail until a court date. It’s basically a financial guarantee that the prisoner shows up to court. The bail amount is dictated by how serious the charges are and by a bail schedule (a list that sets the amount of bail a defendant is required to pay). If the defendant shows up to court as promised, the bail will be returned. If not, they will lose the money and a warrant will be issued for their arrest.
Fortunately, posting bail is fairly easy. Generally, you can pay in cash (personal checks will not be accepted but a money order or cashier’s check should work) at the courthouse and once you do, the prisoner will be released.
A standard bail bond requires a 10% deposit to the court of the stated bond amount. The court must return 90% of the 10% deposit once the case is closed. This is the second-best type of bond, after the recognizance bond, as you’re not required to pay as much up front.
The least desirable type of bond is a cash bond. This bond requires that the defendant pay the court the full bond amount before they can be released. Once the case is over, the full amount of the bond will be refunded, assuming the defendant complied with the bond’s conditions (i.e., showed up to their court dates).
If the bail amount is too high and you can’t afford to pay it (which is often the case with a cash bond), you can use a bail bondsman or bail bond agent. This agent will charge a non-refundable fee (usually 10-20% of the total bail amount). In return, they will pay the remaining fee to the court. This is basically an insurance policy for the court to ensure payment of the entire bond amount if the defendant doesn’t appear at their court date.
These bond and bail types may vary and the court can also attach other conditions or restrictions to the bond, such as on travel, employment, contact with the victims, etc.
Your loved one is lucky to have someone like you helping them throughout this trying process and trying to rescue them from jail as quickly as possible.