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.)
This could be generously seen as an example of Conservation of Detail
: somewhere between episodes, the character goes to court and gets a small fine or some other inconsequential outcome, but this isn't interesting enough to bother showing. But usually it's a bad case of Artistic License - Law
- Zigzagged in the Lucky Luke album 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.
- 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.
- Used frequently 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).
- Justified in the Miniseries Bonanno: A Godfather's Story. A young Joe Bonanno is arrested in Florida for entering the country illegally. A New York mobster comes down to bail him out and afterwards remarks that Bonanno will have to return for trial in a few weeks. He then breaks out into laughter because he was joking and Bonanno actually believed him for a moment. It's the 1920s and as long as Bonanno stays out of Florida, no one will come looking for him when he fails to appear for trial. The judge should have never granted bail to an illegal immigrant but the mobster bribed him ahead of time.
- On My Name Is Earl, Earl feels compelled to help his ex-wife Joy make bail when she's charged with kidnapping and grand theft auto. The judge sets her bail at $1,000,000, which is more money than Earl has even with his lottery winnings, because this is her third strike. To get the money, Earl asks the richest (and craziest) man in Camden, Richard Chubby, the owner of the local strip club and almost every other business in Camden. He agrees to give Earl the money, in exchange for bringing back his number one dancer, Catalina. Catalina agrees, until she finds out it's to help her worst enemy, so Joy steps up to dance...but disaster ensues after drinking to ease her stage fright, so Catalina gets on stage in order to help Earl out of the stress. However, the trope is subverted: Joy is expected to appear in court several episodes later, and spends the interim preparing for her trial.
- 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. The judge declares the bail forfeit on the spot and awards it to the injured party.
- In the state of Georgia at least this is Truth in Television for minor traffic violations. In most states if you pay a fine before your court date, you sign a form confessing to the crime. In Georgia, however, the money you pay is simply your "bail." If you don't show up to the court date, its considered a no contest, and the judge will routinely sentence you to "forfeit bail."