One of the scariest calls you can receive is a call from a loved one telling you that they are in jail and need you to bail them out. If you have no previous experience with the criminal justice system, you may have no idea what to do or where to turn when you get a late-night call from a loved one who has been arrested. For a husband who gets such a dreaded call from his wife, the best thing he can do is get in contact with an experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer like those at Overson Law, PLLC who can help guide him through the process. Below, our attorneys explain the arrest process and bail processes in the Salt Lake City court system.
How the Arrest and Release Process Works in Salt Lake City
After an arrest, your wife will go through what is known as the booking process at the local jail or county detention center. The booking process is usually completed in a few hours and involves getting your biographical information, taking your fingerprints and photographs, and conducting a search of your person to secure your belongings. Within 48 hours of booking, your wife will appear before a judge for a bail hearing.
In Utah, crimes are classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanors and felonies are further subdivided into grades, with felonies ranging from the 1st degree to the 3rd degree and misdemeanors ranging from Class A to Class C. Depending on the class and grading of the crime, after an arrest the judge may choose to release your wife on her own recognizance. Release on your own recognizance (“ROR bail”) means you are released without bail and given a summons to return for your arraignment. This is typically reserved for low-level crimes such as Class B and C misdemeanors. A skilled bail hearing attorney like the team at Overson Law, PLLC will understand how to advocate for the judge to release your wife on her own recognizance and thus avoid the bail process altogether.
What Happens If the Judge Sets Bail for My Wife in Salt Lake City?
If the judge chooses not to release your wife on her own recognizance, they will decide either to set bail or to determine that your wife must be kept in jail pending the resolution of the case. A judge will typically not deny bail to a person unless they have a serious criminal history, a history of not showing up for court appearances, or the crime they are alleged to have committed is so severe as to make you a potential danger to the public.
In most cases, bail will be set. Unfortunately, bail is often not set at a rate that is affordable for the average citizen. The judge determines bail first and foremost based on what is known as the uniform bail schedule.
Uniform Bail Schedule
The uniform bail schedule is a list of suggested bail amounts for different crimes produced by the Uniform Fine/Bail Forfeiture Committee of the Utah Administrative Office of the Courts. The judge will usually follow the amounts listed in this schedule unless there are extenuating circumstances. For more severe crimes, such as aggravated assault, the bail schedule will suggest a higher rate. For less severe crimes, such as simple assault, the bail schedule will suggest a lower rate.
The severity of the crime committed is not the only factor the bail schedule will take into account, however. The person’s criminal history will also be considered. Your wife’s criminal history will be graded on a scale from poor to excellent. The five levels are poor, fair, moderate, good, and excellent. A person with an excellent criminal history, meaning they have no history of trouble with the law, will be given a lower amount of bail even for a more severe crime. If your wife has a poor criminal history, meaning lots of run-ins with the law, her bail will probably be set high even if his charge is minor.
While judges typically stick to the guidelines set out in the bail schedule, in certain cases of “extenuating circumstances” they do have the option to use their discretion to deviate from the schedule and set a different amount of bail. An experienced bail hearing attorney like those at Overson Law, PLLC will understand the arguments that will be most persuasive in convincing a judge to deviate from the bail guidelines to get a lower bail amount. Factors a judge might consider include the following:
- The nature and severity of the alleged crime
- Whether there is a restraining order against the defendant
- Whether the defendant has violated probation or violated parole
- Whether the defendant is already free on bail for another case
- Whether any appeals of a former conviction are still pending
- Whether the defendant has connections to the community (such as family or employers)
- Whether the defendant has a history of substance abuse and/or mental illness
- Whether the defendant has a record of prior offenses
- The defendant’s personal character and reputation within the community
Using a Bail Bondman in Salt Lake City
You made need to get in touch with a bail bondsman if bail is set at a rate you cannot afford without assistance. Our attorneys can set you up with a reputable bail bondsman and guide you through the process to ensure you are not being cheated or scammed. They will issue a surety bond, often against some sort of collateral like your house. If your wife jumps bail and fails to show up for court, the bail bondsman will be responsible for the entire amount of the bail. If you were a cosigner, they will likely come after you to settle their debt. Bail bond agents might even use bounty hunters to make sure defendants show up to court rather than track them down for debts after a failure to appear.
If You Need Help Figuring Out How to Bail Out Your Wife, Call Our Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys Today
The Utah criminal justice system can be difficult to navigate for someone not familiar with its processes and procedures. At Overson Law, PLLC, our team of Park City criminal defense attorneys can help you get your wife out of jail as quickly as possible. We know how to advocate on our client’s behalf to make the case that our client is not a threat to the public or a flight risk and deserves to be sent home with her family while his trial is pending. We can also help bring the underlying criminal matter to a successful conclusion. Call us today at (801) 758-2287 for a free consultation.