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Bail/Bond in Washington: What You Should Know

When someone’s been arrested, the first pressing issue, for most people, is when can they be released? This question comes from the individual themselves as well as from their loved ones. There are 4 ways someone can be released pending their trial. But before we get to that, let’s go over some of the basic terminology. Many people interchange bail and bond. Bail refers to the money the individual (or their family) pays to be released. Bond refers to the promise by the individual to appear in court. Bail and bond go hand in hand. Now, how can someone be released?

There are 4 ways someone can be released.

  • The first one does not require any money, simply their recognizance to appear at trial. This is typically the case when the charge is a non-violent crime, the individual has no criminal history and is not a flight risk.

The other three ways involve money in some form or fashion.

  • A cash bond is usually used for a misdemeanor case and is a low amount. Using a cash bond, the individual will get their money back, minus court fees, when they appear in court for trial.
     
  • For larger amounts of money or for individuals who can’t afford to put the cash up themselves, bail bondsmen may be used. This involves paying a percentage of the bail amount to a company and they ensure the full amount of the bail will be paid to the court. For this, the individual typically has to pay a percentage to the company, usually around 10%, and it’s not refundable. Using a bail bondsman costs less money upfront but you don’t get your money back when you appear in court.
     
  • The final way is using property as bail. To do this, the individual would provide the title to a property to the court and if they don’t appear in court, the court can foreclose on the property. This is probably the rarest of the 4 ways to be released from jail but is still an option.

All of this is great, but I’m sure what many of you are thinking is “Okay, but how do we get bail?” The answer to that is: it depends. For many misdemeanors, the individual can be released after being booked by paying the predetermined amount using a bail schedule that covers most misdemeanor cases. For felonies, however, the individual has to appear in court before an amount will be set. For that appearance in court, you will want to have your attorney present – anytime you appear in front of the judge you are making an impression and could say things that could hurt your case down the road.

If you’ve been charged with a crime, call us for a consultation. We can help you get bail/bond and mitigate the consequences of your criminal charges.

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  • Washington State Bar Association
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