When someone is arrested and awaiting trial, they are often given the opportunity to get released from jail in the interim. This process is known as “bailing out” and here are some of the most frequently asked questions.

When is the bail amount set?

A judge will typically set a preliminary amount during the first court appearance. In most cases a defendant will be required to post 10% of the stated amount in order to be released. If the defendant does not have the funds available to pay the court, then a lawyer can ask the court to reduce the set bail at a later date. Details on reducing the bond are provided below.

What factors are considered when a judge sets the amount?

This is a very frequently asked question and the answer depends on whether the person is charged with a felony, misdemeanor, or petty offense. There is affixed formula that applies in traffic and misdemeanor cases. The court is given discretion in setting the amount if a felony is charged, but they are required to consider:

  • The nature offense charged;
  • Whether the offense charged is one involving violence;
  • Whether a firearm was used at any point during the offense or subsequent arrest;
  • Motivations and/or ability to flee the jurisdiction of the court;
  • Family and community relationships and ties; and
  • The financial resources and employment of the accused.
  • Show up to all court events;
  • Obey all court orders;
  • Do not leave the state;
  • Report any changes in address; and
  • Do not commit any criminal offense or violate any criminal statute.

There are more factors and a full list can be found here (LINK TO 725 ILCS 5/110-5(a)).

What is the purpose behind bail and common conditions of release?

The whole point is to ensure that a person who is released from jail follows court orders. The money is, in a sense, leverage that the court has over the defendant. If a condition is violated, then, amongst other consequences, the posted funds are forfeited.

There are conditions imposed by the court that the defendant must follow once they are released on bail. These are set forth in the order and vary from case to case. However, the following typically apply to all defendants:

The amount required is too high – Bond Reduction Hearings

If the amount required is simply too large for a particular defendant to pay, there are remedies available. After speaking with your attorney and filing the proper motions, a bond reduction hearing can be held. At this hearing, your attorney will present facts and evidence that support a lower award while the prosecuting attorney will try to counter them.

These hearings require a high level of detail and they vary from case to case. It is best to consult with an attorney regarding your specific situation.

Should I post the bail or pay for an attorney?

This is a very common question and, because there is often only enough money to either (1) get out of jail or (2) retain counsel, this is a legitimate concern. In many cases, both options are available. At Michling Plaza & Associates, we often represent defendants without requiring a retainer.

Instead of providing a large payment upfront, we give our clients the option of signing over the posted bail money. At the conclusion of the case the money is returned to us and, after we apply it to the attorney's fees, the remainder is returned to you.