In TV shows, a person arrested for a crime are often given a bail amount that he or she can pay to be temporarily released from jail until the trial day. This is usually a large amount of money—can be hundreds, thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. What TV shows don’t show are the details of determining bail amount and paying for it.
Setting the Amount
The judge handling the case sets the bail according to a set of standards. The amount is largely based on the severity of the crime; however, depending on the circumstances of the particular case, the judge may lower or raise the bail from the standard, waive the bail, or grant release based on the defendant’s “own recognizance” wherein he signs a written promise to appear in court on a particular date.
Another thing that is usually not shown in fictional TV series is how defendants afford the bail. After all, the cases usually involve severe crimes. Bails for such cases amount to thousands of dollars but the depicted defendants seem to be satisfied as long as they are granted bail. How can one afford such bank-breaking amounts?
The answer is bail bonds. In reality, the average person who can’t afford to post bail may seek assistance from a bail bond agent who will sign a written promise to pay an amount set by the court if the released defendant fails to show up in court for the scheduled proceeding.