It is important for people to truly understand how the legal system works in real life. Telling the police that one's understanding of the law came from television is no excuse in the real world. Below are a few quick facts about bail.
- Who gets bail and who decides?
Not everyone is given bail, especially if the crime that a person is accused of is severe. The person who gets to decide whether or not the accused can post bail is the judge. The judge takes into account certain consideration and deliberates on the amount of money that a person needs to pay the court in order to secure their temporary freedom.
If the crime is relatively minor, some judges allow the accused to be set free with a written promise that they will return for their day in court. If the crime is very severe on the other hand, a judge may deny the accused of posting bail.
There are two ways that a judge can decide on how a person gets bail. First off, a judge may refer to something that is known as a bail schedule. This is basically a list of offenses which also shows corresponding prices for bail. A judge simply looks at the schedule and checks if the crime is on the list. In the event that the crime is absent from the list, a judge decides on the bail at their discretion.
- Who can pay bail?
This is where TV and movies make it a little weird. Most of the time the character is bailed out of the hoosegow by either a bail bonds agent or someone they know like a friend or maybe even a foe. The point is that the character rarely bails themselves out of the big house.
In reality, people are allowed to bail themselves out of the stockade as long as they have the money to pay the court.
- Posting bail is equivalent to freedom?
Another common mistake that movies or TV shows get wrong is that bail is equivalent to a person buying their freedom. First of all a person needs to be arraigned and the judge decides whether or not the person is allowed to post bail.
Whether it is through a bail bonds agent, a friend, or their own bank account, the person is only free until their hearing. Posting bail is not equivalent to an actual get out of jail card.
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