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Bail Equals Freedom
Pledging bail is treated as a fine, leaving you free


(permanent link) added: 2011-03-09 16:47:46 sponsor: Aristeia edited by: kjnoren (last reply: 2013-09-03 16:51:02)

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Notes

Taking over this abandoned YKTTW. No Launching Please. Added some examples. Note that I don't think aversions should be listed in general - only if the trope is discussed in some way or similar.

See The Courtroom Index, Hollywood Law, and Artistic License - Law. The latter is probably a good place for how bail is supposed to work. Or perhaps under Common Law - most other legal systems don't use bail, I think.

Description

The quickest and best way to get out of any sticky legal trouble is to post bail. Once bail is decided and paid, then you don't need have any more worries about the police, the judge, the jury, or anything else. In extreme cases, you go right out and do the same thing again, only to get caught and post another bail, walking away.

Ie, this is when fiction treats bail as a fine, not as a guarantee of a later appearance before the police or the legal system. In real life, most courts take a very dim view of people abusing bail, or failing to appear later - if the legal system even has a system for paying bail. (Hint: most countries don't.)

A frequent example of Hollywood Law and Artistic License - Law.

Examples

Comic books:

  • Subverted in Lucky Luke: in Belle Starr, the titular character goes around posting bail for various criminals in exchange for working for her. Since she's bought off the local judge, his brother (who runs the only long-distance communication service) and the priest, she can continue unhindered.

Film

  • Used a few times in the Midnight Run sequels, where Jack gets in trouble with local law enforcement and then posts bail. Egregious because the main character's job is to hunt down bail jumpers and bring them back to LA for prosecution, so thy really should know better.

Literature

  • Justified, averted, and lampshaded In A Civil Campaign. On Escobar, a bond is a guarantee of court appearance, but on Jackson's Whole bail means getting off into the clutches of the one who pays the bail.
    "Whatever. The Escobaran Cortes does not, as you seem to think, engage itself in the slave trade. However it's done on this benighted planet, on Escobar a bond is a guarantee of court appearance, not some kind of human meat market transaction."
    "It is where I come from," Mark muttered.

TV Series

  • More or less explicitly invoked in the original Knight Rider series, whenever Michael gets in trouble with the law the Foundation will bail him out. At one point a law enforcement officer who's trying to make trouble for Michael even explicitly invokes the idea that one day he'll get something to stick on him and no one will be able to bail him out (after already arresting him, Michael is currently out on bail for that charge).

Western Animation

  • On Futurama, Bender's arrest for serial graffiti is forgotten about after he's bailed out.
  • In the South Park episode "The Losing Edge," Randy is constantly getting in fights at his son's little league games. After he's been released, Gerald asks him how much bail was and Randy casually replies, "Like two hundred dollars, no big whoop." This is played for comedy as he keeps on assaulting people over and over and presumably keeps getting let back out for chump change. The inevitable trial for twelve counts of assault never happens.
  • In one episode of Around the World with Willy Fog, Rigadon gets an actual prison sentence, and Fog gets him completely freed by paying the bail. As in, Fog explicitly states they're going to leave the country and he can't spare his manservant to do time.
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