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How Does Bail Work in Pennsylvania?

When you are arrested and put in jail, your first thought is likely to question how you can get out — and quickly. In most cases, the fastest way to get yourself out of jail is by posting bail.

Bail can be posted in the form of cash, a bond or property you give to the court to ensure your appearance at your assigned court date. A failure to show up on your part could result in the court keeping that bail and issuing a warrant for your arrest.

Judges set bail

Judges will set bail, sometimes following a standard bail schedule that specifies amounts of bail for certain common crimes. You will be able to get out of jail quickly by paying the amount indicated on the bail schedule.

If you cannot afford your bail amount, you can ask the judge to lower it. The judge is under no obligation to comply with your request, but you can issue such a request in a special bail hearing or during your first court appearance. The Eight Amendment prohibits excessive bail amounts and bail being used as a form of additional punishment. Your attorney will ensure the court does not infringe on those rights.

How to pay bail

You can pay bail in the form of cash or a check in the full amount of bail, property worth the full amount of bail, a bond (guaranteed payment from a bail bondsman) or a waiver of payment, typically on the condition you appear in court when ordered to do so.

Bond may or may not be a good idea, depending on the circumstances of your case and the amount of your bail. Bond seller’s fees are not refundable, but bail is refundable, minus small administrative fees. Your attorney will be able to provide you with further advice about the best way forward in your situation.

For the guidance and advice you need when facing criminal charges in Pennsylvania, consult knowledgeable Reading criminal defense lawyer David R. Eshelman.


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