It is important for people to truly understand how the legal system works. Knowing a few basic steps will help you stay away from a cell should you even find yourself in a legal bind.
- Legal advice – Depending on the severity of your legal situation, you will want to secure a lawyer. Seeking legal advice may seem like a drastic step, but it's better to be proactive versus reactive. The old saying "better safe than sorry" is used as frequently as it is because it's true.
- Post bail – When you face a judge, unless you are accused of having committed a serious crime, the odds are in your favor that the judge will grant bail. This will allow you to leave jail and return home as you await your court date. There are two types of bail that you can post so that you can be released from jail:
- Cash bond: Should you have the money to pay your bail, do so. The money will be returned to you once you have finished your court appearances as long as you attend all of those hearings. You are able to use collateral as well, such as property, to post bail.
- Surety: If you do not have the money or collateral to post bail on your own, you can contact a bail bondsman through a bail bond agency to post bail for you. Often they will give the court an assurance that you will show up for all of your court appointments versus actually paying cash for your bail. You will need to pay a percentage of the bail upfront to the bail bonds agency, typically anywhere from 10-20%, but there are also situations when a bail bonds agency will work with you and your financial situation to make sure that you can post a surety bond. The percentage paid to the bail bond agency is not refundable to you, but instead acts as the fee the agency is paid for posting bail on your behalf.
- Your rights – Be sure that you know your rights in any legal proceedings you are involved in. You have the right to hire an attorney, or to ask that the court to provide you with an attorney should not be able to afford one. You do not, though, have the right to bail; that is a decision the court makes depending on your criminal history and the severity of the crime you are accused of.