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How to Get Out of Jail

Bad news: There are about 30,000 arrests in Monroe County, New York every year.

More bad news: Jail is a legal sentence for felonies, misdemeanors, violations and even some traffic tickets.

Even more bad news: People, even innocent people, can be held in jail while their case is pending even though they are "presumed innocent."

GOOD NEWS: Most people who are arrested are not in jail.

Ways to get out of jail if you are arrested:

1) Get an appearance ticket ‑ Appearance tickets are notices to appear at a particular court on a date and time in the future. They are often given in violation misdemeanor and sometimes low-level felony cases. If you fight the police, you won't be getting an appearance ticket. Unfortunately, some officers think that being cooperative means giving up rights, which I certainly don't suggest ‑ especially by giving a statement to the police. You should be respectful and polite, and it is OK to let the officer know that you have a job or a connection to the community and you would appreciate an appearance ticket if he is forced to arrest you. In fact, sometimes it is not the officer's decision at all; their arrest is based off a prior sworn statement and they are just there to make the arrest, not to investigate.

2) Get released by the judge ‑ Release in Monroe County can mean a lot of things:

  • Released on Recognizance
  • Pretrial release
  • Home confinement
  • GPs monitoring

Most people I have talked to would take any one of those options instead of jail. The determination will be made by a judge who considers factors that determine whether or not it is likely that you return to court to face the charges against you.

3) Bail out ‑ Pay the money the judge sets for bail and you get out of jail. If the defendant does not return to court, the bail is forfeited.

4) Post a bond ‑ If the bail is too high to make, a bondsman can and will charge a fee and post a bond on behalf of the defendant. If the bondsman charges 10% and the bail is at $50,000, the bondsman charges $5,000, which is not returned, and posts a $50,000 bond on the defendant's behalf.

The question is really about bail. The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution plainly states that excessive bail is against the law. Think about that: Way back then, bail was on the radar. Theoretically, the only purpose of bail is to ensure the defendant is present in court.

As you can expect, the culture of the particular court plays a large role in the amount of bail in a case. The sad part is that a few people ruin it for everyone. Everybody is safe when the defendant is in jail. The worst nightmare of a judge and prosecutor is that they listen to somebody's pitch about why they should be allowed to go home and then the defendant leaves and kills someone. It is obviously rare, but it does happen.

Interestingly, defendants in federal court are far more likely to be released than similar defendants in state court. This is strange because the sentences faced are often times two or three times more severe in federal court. Turns out that even though they let most people out, they come back too.

When determining bail, the judge should consider the defendant's:

  • Character
  • Employment and financial resources
  • Ties to the community
  • Criminal record
  • Record of making/missing court in the past
  • Strength of the case against the defendant
  • Severity of the charges

Finally, if there is an arrest, the sooner a Rochester criminal defense lawyer is involved in the case, the better the chance for release and/or lower bail. An experienced attorney has handled hundreds or thousands of bail applications and can speak the judge's language and give them a reason to make an exception. If you would like to discuss bail, contact us.