You’ve been arrested, booked, and are now waiting patiently for arraignment where your charges will be read and you will enter a plea. What happens next will depend on the severity of the crime for which you have been arrested. You may be released, required to pay bail, or remanded to custody. These terms are explained below so you will know what to expect when you hear them in the courtroom.

Own Recognizance

Criminal suspects may have an opportunity to effectively engage in their own defense if they are offered release on their own recognizance (OR). Several factors will determine an arrestees chances for ROR including their criminal record, the severity of the crime, their level of community involvement, and any dangers they may pose to the public. Suspects must sign a promise to appear at all court proceedings. Other restrictions, such as movement or necessary drug treatment, may also be imposed by the judge at the time of ROR.

Bail or Bond

While it does cost some money, being released on bail or bond also gives suspects the opportunity to work closely with their criminal defense lawyer. Many jurisdictions have mandatory bail requirements for certain crimes. Past criminal history can also affect the amount of bail required for release. Bail is set in court and sometimes allows arrestees to obtain a bond from an outside agency to pay the bail. Bail is paid in full to the courts by the suspect. However, bonds are issued by bondsmen who generally charge 10 percent of the total bail as a non-refundable fee. They will then pay the full amount and use their client’s real property as collateral in case the bail is revoked by the courts.


Some charges or a person’s prior convictions may cause a judge to rule they are held without bail, or remanded to custody. These suspects are then placed in a local, usually county, jailhouse throughout the duration of their court proceedings. All client/lawyer meetings are held within the facility. Telephone calls may be monitored and recorded, including those that involve a suspect’s case, so there is no confidentiality for these communications. Remanded arrestees have the least amount of opportunity to be involved in building their defense.

Experienced criminal defense attorneys know the legal requirements for issuing release on OR or bail. Most will use their expertise to keep their clients from being remanded because it gives them a greater opportunity to build a defense. Released clients can often keep working and this makes it easier for them to pay their lawyer which then results in better court representation.