If you have been arrested for a criminal offense in Louisiana, your first thought will likely be getting out of jail. Every case is different, but the quickest way to get out of jail before your trial involves posting bail. This isn’t the same as a pretrial intervention or having charges against you dropped. In fact, securing bail means that you must be even more vigilant about making all of your scheduled court dates and hearings. Bail is a promise to the court that, even though you are walking out of jail, you will come back for all of your trials and hearings.
Not all bonds are created equal. There are five main types of bail obligations that you can use to get out of jail, depending on your circumstances.
- Bail with a commercial surety – Under Louisiana law, bail bond companies that are licensed and regulated through the state Department of Insurance can enter into a contract with a defendant to receive 12 percent of the bail amount in exchange for guaranteeing the entire amount to the court. The 12 percent premium is non-refundable, and bail bond companies routinely require a co-signer.
- Bail with a secured personal surety – In some cases, a defendant or a co-signer will put up a piece of property to cover the cost of bail. The land must be located in the state and the court will record a mortgage against the property after receiving the title and ensuring there is sufficient equity to pay the bond, if necessary.
- Bail with an unsecured personal surety – Sometimes referred to as a PSBU, this option involves bringing in a third party who pledges to guarantee the bail amount. The PSBU does not make a payment in advance, but a hearing is usually conducted to determine the third party is financially able to co-sign on behalf of the defendant. There is a charge for a PSBU.
- Bail without surety – Generally, non-violent defendants can ask the court to consider a release without bond security.
- Bail with a cash deposit – This is no different than cash bonds elsewhere in the country. A bail bond company is not involved so there is no premium payment. Instead, the defendant or a co-signer puts up the entire amount of the bail.
A defendant must first be booked into jail, a process that takes anywhere from 45 minutes to several hours. After the booking process is finished, the defendant is given the opportunity to make a phone. This call can be made to a family member or to a bail bond agent. Or, if the defendant has enough cash to pay the full amount of the bail, it’s possible to pay that cash immediately – as long as the amount of bail is known.
For most misdemeanors, it’s possible to be booked and post bail in a matter of hours as most parishes have a bail schedule for most misdemeanor crimes. For a more serious crime, state law requires that a defendant be brought before a judge in person or by closed-circuit TV – within 72 hours of arrest.