How Much Would Bail Cost?

I found out some shocking news earlier in the week about someone that I used to consider a very close friend.  We have fallen out of touch over the last few years (a situation that’s worthy of its own future post), but I found out that he was charged with embezzling almost $400,000 from a trust fund that he was managing.  It’s shocking and you can bet that I’ll be watching with great interest.  I’m torn because as a former friend, you want to believe he isn’t capable of something so ghastly, but some of the things that went into him becoming a ‘former’ friend were tied to character issues.

In any case, one of the things that came to mind was how he would be handled prior to the eventual trial I’m sure will happen (unless he strikes a plea deal) and specifically how he would be processed for bail.  I received some great information from Expert Bail that was timely and informative.

Getting arrested may be one of the worst things a person can go through, especially when you have never been in the back seat of a police car. The ride downtown to the station, the booking by the police, fingerprinting for the records… everything is scary when you experience it for the first time.

Then there is the matter of bail money. If you do not know how the bail system works, it can be confusing at first until you realize a few simple truths about the way things go.

First-time offenders realize this every year. The number of first arrests every year is not easily known, because a lot of states don’t release these crime figures.

For an example on how the bail process works, let us say you had dinner with a friend in a city in California, and you met other friends later on and had another few drinks afterwards. You might not be in a good condition to drive, but you did anyway, and you rear-ended another car at an intersection.

The accident caused minor injuries, but in taking a breathalyzer test the police determine you did have a bit too much and you are legally intoxicated. You are arrested for first-offender DUI and taken by police to their nearest station, where you will be booked and fingerprinted. Since this is a DUI with minor injuries and you are a first-time offender, a rough estimate of what could expect to pay is $2,000. This could vary in other states.

It should be noted that average bail amounts go up from here, depending on what type of crime it is. Most smaller crimes don’t have any bail or the party is released on their own recognizance, which means they acknowledge the charges and will appear in court. Bail can go up to $10,000-$25,000 for personal destruction of property and can surpass six figures for more violent crimes (assault, murder, rape, etc) or in the case of my friend, embezzlement. Bail can be denied altogether if the party is deemed too much of a risk.

Should you need to go higher than a small amount of money, this is where a bail bondsman comes in. If none are available in your area, a national service may be needed.  They will know what to do when it comes to posting a bond. You can get your money back if you post a cash bond, but a surety bond will be cashed minus any fees and premiums owed to the police or sheriff’s department.

You should note that you do not have to pay the entire amount. In the case of your first-time DUI, all you will need to pay is $200 to be released. An arraignment date is then scheduled. You will want to retain counsel at this point, so you may think about hiring an attorney. Your attorney will take it from here, scheduling a hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles and making sure you are all set when it comes to the arraignment. By the end of the process, you will likely wish you had not stepped behind the wheel, but it is happening.

The best thing to do is just walk away if you sense a situation where a crime might be the best way out, but if it happens anyways, considering your bail options is one thing you’ll have to do.

10 thoughts on “How Much Would Bail Cost?”

  1. wow $2,000 for a DUI that is pretty steep. I would have imagined under $500. Sorry to hear about your friend, it is hard to think people we know can do things like that.

    • You always figure it’s somebody else when you hear about stuff on the news, but that somebody else has to know people. Guess it’s just a matter of time!

  2. $2,000, even the cheaper $200, bail fee is a very nice incentive to take a cab rather than try to drive.

    • As sensible as that sounds, the issue is that when people drink too much, they get cocky and overconfident, so many people that would agree with your statement while reading it sober would end up on the wrong side of the law if they had too much to drink. It’s why you need to have responsible friends with you when you go out, as they can often save you from yourself.

  3. Very early in my career, when I was drafted into the army, I was a teacher at Ft. Leavenworth army prison (USDB). It was my duty assignment. I was very curious so I surveyed my students and realized rather quickly how different they were from me. They were willing to commit crimes, although mostly military crimes because they never thought they would get caught. Some of the crimes were larceny, repeat AWOL, desertion, rape and murder. The main difference between a criminal and me is I realize I would be caught the very first time where they think they will never be caught..

  4. This is a really interesting post. I’ve always been mystified by how bail works.

    You’d think a guy who ripped off $400,000 could afford a measly 25 grand…or whatever he’d actually have to pay to unlock the prison door.

    Around here, DWI is not treated as a minor crime. One of my young editors was, it developed, a closet alcoholic. She was arrested as she was tooling up a freeway, sincerely believing that she was sober enough to drive…tested toilet-hugging drunk and got an Extreme DWI. Translate as “Extremely Not a Minor Offense.” The state of Arizona does everything possible to impoverish and torment people who drive under the influence, even after they get out of jail.

    She’s now a lawyer, BTW.

    • Actually, I found out that the guy got released on personal bond which means he didn’t even have to anything up front to get out. Crazy.

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