Bail and Pretrial Release

Being in jail is an awful and dehumanizing experience. Public defenders fight to get their clients released. Evidence shows that people who are free while their case is moving through the court system are more likely to have better outcomes than if they are in jail.

Pretrial Release

If you’ve been arrested and charged with a crime, you will have an initial court appearance before a judge within 48 hours. This appearance is guaranteed as part of your constitutional rights. During this initial appearance, you’ll be provided a public defender or other court appointed counsel to assist you. You will be advised of your legal rights, including your right to request a public defender to represent you. The judge will review the charges against you and information about you to determine whether to release you and with what conditions.

Pretrial release allows you to return home while you await your trial date. Once you have been released you must apply for a public defender and demonstrate that you qualify for our services.

Interior of an empty courtroom with gavel and law books.

What Is Bail?

If you’re granted pretrial release, you will be asked to either sign an agreement to return to court (personal recognizance bond) or post bail to secure your release from jail while you’re awaiting the next steps in your criminal proceedings. Bail can be provided in the form of cash, a bond or personal property. It is used as collateral to guarantee that you’ll return for your future court appearances and will not attempt to flee from the jurisdiction where your case is being held. Please contact your public defender if you are missing court! If you fail to fulfill these obligations detailed as part of your pretrial release, the court may take the money or property posted for your bail.

The judge is responsible for setting your bail amount. In most cases, this occurs during your initial appearance within 48 hours of your arrest. For many of the most common criminal charges, there are automatic bail amounts set, allowing you to pay this and be released from jail within a few hours of being arrested.

What Happens if I Cannot Afford Bail?

If you’re unable to afford the bail amount set by the judge, you can request a reduced bail at future court dates. In some instances, the judge may agree to reduce your bail in exchange for other stipulations that will help guarantee your compliance with future proceedings.

Another option when you’re unable to afford bail is to post a bail bond instead of providing cash. Bail bondsmen typically require you to pay 10% of the full bail amount, and they will then post the remainder of the amount. In most instances, the bail bondsman will require you to provide the title to a piece of property as collateral in addition to your 10% payment.

2015 Colorado Bail Book

See the 2015 Colorado Bail Book for more information.

More Information

Types of Bail

The most common types of bail offered to individuals charged with a crime include the following:

Cash Bail

You must pay the full monetary amount of your bail prior to being released from jail.

Bail Bonds

A third party, called a bail bondsman, will post the full amount of your bail. This option is typically used when you aren’t able to afford your bail. In exchange, the bondsman will collect a percentage of the bail amount and may hold the title to a piece of property as collateral.

Property Bond

The title to a piece of property, such as a home or a vehicle, will be used to post your bail amount instead of providing a cash payment. The court will hold the title to your property until you’ve fulfilled all conditions associated with your pretrial release.

Personal Recognizance

Also known as a “PR bond,” this does not require you to pay anything or provide any collateral to be released. The Court may associate a monetary amount with the bond that could be money you owe if you violate the conditions of the bond but is not an amount that you pay to be released.

The Colorado State Public Defender Can Help

If you are released and wish to continue to be represented by a public defender, please complete an application at your local office as soon as possible. You do not want to go it alone!

Apply for a Public Defender