For most people, the first priority after an arrest is getting out of jail. However, it is important that you consult an attorney even before posting bond. In Oklahoma, the ability to post bond will automatically preclude you from getting a public defender. Judges work on the assumption that if you can afford bail, you can afford to hire a private attorney, even though this may not be true. For this reason, many people remain in jail far longer than necessary. Because they cannot afford to a lawyer, they must stay in jail until a public defender is appointed to them.
Fortunately, when you do hire a lawyer for your case, he or she may be able to get your bond lowered. This could be a savings of thousands of dollars.
The purpose of bond is to enforce accountability for showing up for your court dates. The judge sets the bond, which in theory, should be low enough to allow a person to get out of jail pending the conclusion of his or her case, but high enough to make it important for him or her to show up in court.
When a person posts bond, he pays a certain amount that is held until the culmination of the case. If the defendant appears at all court dates, the bond is returned. If the defendant fails to appear, the bond is forfeited. In other words, if you don't show up at court, you lose all that money you paid to get out of jail.
If a person uses a bail bondsman, then the defendant pays the bondsman a certain percent of the bond, and the bondsman bails him or her out of jail. At the culmination of the case, if the defendant appears at all court dates, the money is returned to the bondsman who paid it. If a defendant fails to appear, the bounty hunter goes looking for the defendant to make sure he or she appears in court.
If you are jailed in Oklahoma, your bond could range from $1,000 to $1,000,000, depending on the severity of the charge and your perceived flight risk. In some serious cases, including murder, a defendant may be held without bond.
Your defense attorney may file a motion to have your bond reduced. He or she may demonstrate that you are not a flight risk, or that the amount of the bond is unreasonable for your circumstances. Bond is not intended to be punitive; it is intended to serve two purposes: to secure the defendant's court appearances and to protect the general public. It is important to find an attorney who will fight against excessive bond and will outline the reasons why your bond should be reduced in his or her motion for your bond reduction.
If you have been arrested or if your friend or loved one is in jail, call (405) 418-8888 to speak with a lawyer about how to lower bond and get out of jail.