When police suspect you of committing a crime, they will put you through the arrest and bail process before a trial can occur. For many people, this part of the criminal justice process can be the most difficult, especially if you don’t understand fully what is happening. That’s why we have provided this information for you here.
During each stage of the arrest and bail process, you are permitted to have a Cincinnati criminal defense lawyer present to help you get through this ordeal more easily and represent your rights. Take advantage of this right to an attorney and get one on your side from the time you are arrested to the time you are released on bail—and for every step afterward.
If police believe you have committed a crime, they can arrest you for the offense and put you on trial. This is the first official step of the criminal justice process, and it occurs when you are taken into police custody pending an official criminal trial. An officer will inform you of your Miranda rights and take you to the precinct or jail to be booked.
There are specific procedures, however, that must be followed for your arrest to be legitimate. There are only three ways that law enforcement can legitimately arrest you.
- A police officer witnessed you commit a crime. If law enforcement sees you pickpocket someone on the street, for example, they can immediately take you into custody and put you under arrest, based on their personal observation of a crime in action.
- Law enforcement has established probable cause. If a police officer has a reasonable belief, based on facts and circumstances in evidence, that a person has committed or is about to commit a crime, they have probable cause of that person’s culpability. This probable cause is enough to get a warrant for your arrest and take you into custody.
- There is already a warrant out for your arrest. In certain cases, a warrant will already be out for your arrest when law enforcement stops you for some other reason. In this case, the existence of an arrest warrant is enough to take you into custody regardless of that police officer’s knowledge of or involvement in the case.
Once you have been arrested, you will be booked by an officer, which is the way you are officially processed into the criminal justice system. Law enforcement will record the following:
- Personal information, such as name, date of birth, and personal characteristics or appearance
- Information and details of the crime you are accused of
- An inventory of the personal property confiscated upon your arrest
- Any relevant evidence obtained in a reasonable search
After this, you will be placed in a police station holding cell or local jail to await a bail hearing. For minor offenses, you may also be simply given a written citation and released on your own recognizance, that is, a promise to appear in court at a later date after signing the citation.
After you’ve been put in jail or a holding cell, your only thought is usually of getting out. If there is a standard bail amount set for your crime, you can call an attorney to post bail right away and get you released. In other cases, you will have to go to a bail hearing before a judge who will set the amount of your bail. The Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits excessive bail, so it will correspond to the severity of your alleged crime and your perceived flight risk. If you cannot afford to pay the bail, you may have to wait until trial to be released. Your defense attorney can, however, request a special hearing to lower the bail to an affordable rate.
Once you have posted bail, you will be released pending your trial. You can pay cash to the court, execute a property bond (putting a lien against personal property equaling the amount of your bail), or execute a surety bond through a bail bondsman. This surety bond is usually 10 percent of the total amount owed in bail and generally will be kept as payment to the bondsman. In some cases, you can simply be released on your own recognizance by the judge at this point.
How a Cincinnati Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
If you are accused of a crime, call a Luftman, Heck, and Associates defense attorney 24/7 at to discuss your case. We are happy to provide you with a free consultation so you can learn how we may be able to help.