When Do You Get Released If You Don't Post Bail?

Navigating the legal system when unable to post bail is a daunting challenge many defendants face. This comprehensive guide delves into the intricacies of pretrial detention, particularly for those who can’t afford bail, and examines the wider implications of this system.

Extended Detention in Colorado Without Bail: What to Expect

In the state of Colorado, the inability to post bail can result in prolonged jail time until the conclusion of the trial or a change in bail conditions. The length of this detention is not uniform; it varies based on several factors such as the nature and severity of the crime, legal procedures, and court backlog. It’s essential to understand this variance to manage expectations and prepare accordingly.

The Bail System

Upon arrest, the bail process kicks in. For minor offenses, the accused might be released without bail. But for more serious offenses, the bail amount is either set according to a predetermined schedule or determined by a judge during arraignment. Here, factors such as the severity of the crime, potential flight risk, the defendant’s community ties, and their criminal history come into play.

Defendants have options for posting bail: cash, bond, or property. Cash bail demands the full amount upfront, whereas a bail bond involves a bail bond agent and typically requires payment of about 10% of the total bail amount, which is non-refundable.

Phases and Waiting Periods Pre-Trial

The pre-trial process involves several steps, starting with the arraignment, where charges are formally presented. In Colorado, this should occur within 48 hours of arrest, barring weekends and holidays. During this stage, the judge may set bail, considering various factors.

Subsequently, the defendant undergoes various pre-trial procedures, including court appearances, discovery, and motion practices. The duration of this phase is a critical factor in determining the length of jail time if bail is not posted.

Speedy Trial Rights and Delays

The right to a speedy trial is a constitutional guarantee, but actual timelines vary. In Colorado, different timeframes are set for misdemeanors and felonies. However, real-world factors like court case backlogs and legal motions can delay trials, prolonging detention for those unable to post bail.

Challenges in Legal Proceedings

Legal proceedings are often delayed due to various factors like the complexity of the case, the need for additional evidence, or changes in legal representation.

Such delays can extend the time a defendant spends in jail. Plea bargains, while sometimes expediting release, often involve concessions and can impact the outcome of a case. Prolonged pretrial detention can have significant social, economic, emotional, and legal consequences. Job loss, financial instability, mental health issues, and strained family relationships are common.

In the legal sphere, extended detention can lead to unfair plea bargains and hamper the defendant’s ability to contribute to their defense strategy. There is growing advocacy for reforming the bail system in Colorado, with suggestions including the implementation of a zero-dollar bail schedule and enhanced legal support for underprivileged defendants. Non-monetary alternatives, such as supervised release programs and electronic monitoring, are also gaining popularity as they offer a more equitable approach to pretrial detention.


For defendants in Colorado unable to afford bail bonds in Fort Collins, the length of pretrial detention can be uncertain and varies greatly based on legal, personal, and procedural factors. This guide underscores the need for a thorough understanding of the bail system, its impacts, and the ongoing efforts towards more equitable legal practices. As the legal landscape evolves, staying informed and seeking expert guidance remains crucial for navigating these challenges. If you need help with bail, reach out to us at Affordable Bail Bonds.