The bail system, one that is in place across the United States, allows recently incarcerated individuals to post a specific amount of money in exchange for their freedom as they await trial. But while the money goes to the hands of the court system for a period of time, it is meant to only act as collateral, and can generally be fully retrieved once the trial has commenced. Of course, doing so takes a few steps, and anyone wishing to get their bail money back should perform the following measures:
Show Up for the Trial
The whole point of the bail system is to allow those sitting in jail the ability to live freely up until their trial begins. The bail money is a form of collateral, and it is held to ensure the return of the incarcerated. Naturally, anyone that posts bail has the ability to flee in hopes of avoiding the legal proceedings, but doing so will not only permanently relinquish the cash over to the court, as well as give the criminal justice system further reason to see this person as a flight risk in the future. Considering this, the first step in receiving bail money back is by simply showing up for the court proceedings, whenever they may be scheduled.
Stay Through the Whole Trial
Depending on the allegations, as well as the schedule of the court, the trial for a defendant may take only a single afternoon, or last up to a few days or even a week. And while you may wish to avoid a conviction by abandoning the trial before the sentence is passed, doing this will once again sacrifice the bail money, and will lead to harsher penalties in the future if once again incarcerated. To make sure that you see your money once again, stick around for the entirety of the trial, including the sentencing portion.
Follow the Orders Given by the Judge
In virtually all jurisdictions throughout the United States, once a trial has been concluded, if bail was involved, the judge will then issue an order for the return of the bail amount to the defendant (this is also called an “exoneration” of the bail). This means that the bail money no longer belongs to the court system, and is free to be returned to the defendant at any time. Once this occurs, the municipal Department of Finance will write a check for the amount required, and mail it to the defendant within a few weeks. And though it may seem unreasonable, the city will hold onto a small portion of the money that you paid if the trial ended in a conviction; otherwise, the full amount will be returned shortly afterwards. Additionally, if you have any concerns about the amount you received, or any further questions about the bail system, you can contact the Department of Finance directly.
Get Your Bail Back
Paying the bail amount set in your case is the easiest way to see freedom before the beginning of your trial. And if you hope to see the money back in the future, consider these steps as you take care of your legal matters.