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Indianapolis Criminal & OWI Lawyers > Blog > Criminal Defense > Jail Release Options In Marion County

Jail Release Options In Marion County


According to a recent report, over 60 percent of Marion County Jail inmates are unsentenced. The vast majority of these individuals are simply unable to make bail.

Pretrial incarceration has personal, emotional, and legal consequences. People behind bars obviously cannot work to support their families or spend time with friends and loved ones. Additionally, attempting to defend a case from jail is harder, because the State of Indiana has significantly more leverage in any case when they can simply offer home detention or straight probation to an in-custody Defendant.  Even if a person thinks they have a defense to their case, they are unlikely to continue to sit in jail and say “no thanks” to the plea offer that would get them out.

An Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer advocates for appropriate bail, in an attempt to get their clients out of jail as quickly, and as cheaply, as possible.

Pretrial Release

The aforementioned unsentenced inmate problem certainly isn’t unique to Indiana. Twenty-six other states have unsentenced inmate ratios above 60 percent. In six of these states, the ratio exceeds 80 percent.

To combat this problem, Indiana and most other states have expanded their pretrial release programs. In fact, a few states have experimented with eliminating the traditional cash bail/bail bond system. These experiments have had mixed results.

In Marion County, pretrial release, or own recognizance (OR) release is usually available to defendants who have no criminal records and face nonviolent charges.

Both these qualifications seem straightforward, but they are not. Prosecutors often disagree about the importance of certain prior arrests.  As a result, it is important that Defendants have an experienced and engaged defense attorney on their side.

Cash Bail/Bail Bond

Usually, the sheriff or county clerk sets a presumptive cash bail amount during the intake process. This amount is usually based on the severity of the offense and the defendant’s criminal record. People who face serious charges and/or have checkered pasts must pay more.

Interestingly, many studies suggest these things should lower bail amounts. Defendants facing serious charges are often more anxious to have their day in court. Furthermore, defendants who have been through the system before know the drill, so they aren’t as scared about failing to appear.

Typically, presumptive cash bail is around $500 for a misdemeanor and around $1,000 for a low-level felony. Unfortunately for many families, a misdemeanor cash bail of $500 is no different than  $750 million, because they couldn’t afford either one.

At a bail review hearing, which usually happens within a week of arrest, a judge considers many other factors as well, such as the defendant’s:

  • Ability to pay,
  • Connections with the community,
  • Criminal past,
  • Ability to flee the jurisdiction, and
  • Threat to specific people in the community.

Cash bail is like a rental security deposit. If the renter returns the property in good order, s/he gets most of the deposit back. Likewise, if a defendant complies with all bail conditions, s/he gets most of the bail money back. Common conditions include appearing at all required hearings, checking in with a supervision officer, and remaining in the State of Indiana unless given permission to go elsewhere.

A surety bond, which is like an insurance policy, is often required on more serious cases. If the defendant violates a condition, the bail bond company bears the financial risk. Most companies charge about a 10 percent premium for these policies.  If you pay a surety bond, however, that money is gone forever and you do not get it back at the end of the case.

Reach Out to a Hard-Working Marion County Attorney

Criminal suspects have important rights when their cases go to court. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Indianapolis, contact Rigney Law LLC. Virtual, home, and jail visits are available.


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