Most of us remember playing the board game Monopoly and having to spend a turn (or few) in jail.
While players have the opportunity to use the iconic “Get Out of Jail Free” card to escape detainment, it’s not so easy in real life.
If you don’t have enough money to post bail, the future for you may seem grim. Luckily, there’s a solution.
Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we got you covered.
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about how to post bail when you’re low on funds.
Before We Begin…
It’s important to understand what “bail” actually is.
While most people think it’s just an amount of money that you pay to get out of jail for the time being, it’s actually a promise that you’ll appear in court on the required dates.
The money that you pay to post bail is held as collateral until you complete all of your required court dates. As long as you attend, your bail money will be refunded.
So, if you don’t have any money, the court doesn’t see that they have any leverage on you to get you to show up.
This is where getting out of jail for “free” comes in. If you can prove that you’re trustworthy, you may be able to make a deal. If you have no cash, the first option you can consider is…
Signing Over Property Ownership Rights
So, you’re in jail. We won’t talk about what you did to land yourself there, but you’re in need of a way out.
If you happen to have possessions of significant value, you can temporarily transfer ownership of these items to the court as your form of bail.
This can be in the form of jewelry, vehicles, residential property, etc.
As a rule of thumb, if it can be legally sold by the court in the event that they keep it, you can often use it to post your bail. Like with regular cash, though, you’ll get ownership back once you meet your required court dates.
But, this shouldn’t be your first course of action. It can make things difficult if you offer something like your vehicle, as you won’t get it back until your case is settled.
Getting Released on Your Own Recognizance
If both money and property aren’t options for you, there is yet another avenue you can take in order to get back to your daily routine.
Through a special hearing, known as a bail hearing, or during your first appearance in court, you’ll be able to ask the judge for the privilege of being released on your own recognizance (O.R.).
What you’re essentially proposing is offering your word as your promise to appear in court. If accepted, you won’t have to offer any sort of collateral, and you’ll be free to go.
As you can expect, judges aren’t agreeing to these terms left and right. Getting an O.R. release requires special circumstances to even be considered, and even then it’s up to the judge’s personal opinion on whether or not to grant you the release.
Since you’re offering nothing that the court can claim ownership of if you fail to appear in court, judges only give O.R. releases to these with deep roots in their local community. These individuals are least likely to flee.
Factors that can sway the judge’s opinion in your favor include:
- You have long-term, stable employment near where you live.
- You have many family members in your community. These can include a spouse, kids, parents, etc.
- Your previous crimes were minor and give no indication you are a threat to the general public.
- You never missed a court date in the past for previous crimes.
As previously mentioned, it’s ultimately up to the judge to make their decision. Even if you have a steady job and family in your community, the judge may decide that you’ll have to post bail.
If so, you’ll need to…
Contact a Bail Bondsman
If you have no money, not much property, and the judge isn’t on your side, you may feel like this is the end of the road.
But, a bail bondsman can be the hero that you need.
The process works like this. A bail bondsman typically needs 10% of the required bail from the defendant.
Afterward, they cover the other 90% through collateral. This option is great for those who have no cash and not enough valuables to offer as collateral since bail bondsman will often seek out your friends and family on your behalf to help get you out of jail.
Then, things move forward as normal (release, court dates, etc.) and the bondsman keeps the 10% as payment for his services.
While many bondsmen require an upfront fee, there are also flexible bondsmen who will allow you to make payments on your bond after your release. Keep in mind, however, the less you offer initially, the more you may have to pay in total.
You can learn more about working with a bondsman here.
Knowing How to Post Bail with No Money Can Seem Difficult
But it doesn’t have to be.
With the above information about how to post bail in mind, you’ll be well on your way to regaining your freedom even if your bank account’s looking a bit dry.
Want to learn more finance tricks that can make your life easier? Make sure to check out the rest of our blog!