What Else Can You Do If You Can’t Pay Bail?
Depending on the severity of your offence, your bail may amount to tens of thousands. The cost may be too high that you may not have enough to meet it. Does this automatically mean you’ll stay in jail until your court hearing? Not necessarily.
Alternatives to Paying Bail
If you can’t pay upfront for your bail, you can try asking the judge to reduce your bail, use a bondsman, or put up collateral in exchange for your temporary freedom.
- Requesting for a lower bail
The Bail Reform Act gives the right to argue the amount set by the judge. You can request for a lower bail amount through your defense attorney. Your lawyer may argue that the bail is so excessive, it’s tantamount to bail denial. Witness testimony about your ties to the community along with the absence of a criminal record may also strengthen your case for reducing the bail.
Although you may have a strong case, the court is not beholden to lowering the bail to an amount you can afford. The judge may reduce it, but only up to an amount that would compel you not to skip bail and attend your hearings. If the court maintains what may seem like an excessive bail, it is bound by law to set out its rationale in writing and justify its reason.
- Using a bondsman
Another way to secure your temporary freedom despite not being able to pay your bail upfront is through using a bondsman. A bondsman will vouch for you in court, guaranteeing the judge that you’ll be present during your hearing.
You will have to pay the bondsman 10 to 15 percent of your total bail amount before he vouches for you in court, though. But in comparison with paying the bail at full price, paying 10 to 15 percent of that is significantly lesser in amount.
North Carolina has a lot of trusted bondsmen you can talk to that can help you with your bail. In Gastonia, bond providers offer bail services that charge as low as 10 percent of your bail to make payment easier for you.
- Putting up collateral
You can put up collateral to secure the cost of a bond. Some of your options are real estate, a valuable car, or other properties with value on the market. Placing your assets as collateral can help secure your bail without having to sell the asset.
- Release on your own recognizance
In most cases, you can reclaim your freedom without paying for anything. If it’s your first offense or your crime is a non-violent offense, you may be released from custody. All you have to do is to sign a document that promises attendance in your court hearing. The local police will need to do a criminal background check first and make its recommendation before the judge decides you meet the requirements for ROR.
All defendants are deemed innocent until proven otherwise. This is why the law prohibits “excessive” bail, but unfortunately, the U.S. Constitution doesn’t define what is excessive. When you can’t make the bail, use the appropriate option to see your release from detention.