Release alternatives

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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:35 pm
If you've been charged with a misdemeanor, you'll generally be released from custody immediately and ordered to appear in court at a certain time. If you've been charged with a more serious crime, you'll appear before a judge at an initial hearing or arraignment, at which time bail will be set. You can be released from custody by posting the full amount of bail set, the equivalent in property, or a bond. Once you've posted bail, you'll be released from custody with an order to appear in court at a certain time. When you return to court at the appointed time, your bail will be returned to you. If you don't return to court, your bail is forfeited and a warrant may be issued for your arrest. In some cases, the judge may waive bail. This is generally only done when the defendant can show that close ties to the community are such that he or she will not flee, that he or she has a good record of reappearing for trial, or that he or she has little or no previous criminal record. A release on one's own recognizance, sometimes called an OR (O-R) release, generally means the defendant simply has to sign a promise to reappear in court for trial as ordered.

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