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If an MDJ imposes cash bail, they may set the amount in one of two ways: percentage or straight. Percentage means that a person only needs to post a fraction of the total amount, typically 10%, in order to be released. Straight means that a person must post the total amount. If MDJs set percentage bail, existing law permits courts to collect “poundage” or a “bail retention fee”: a cut of the money deposited. Some counties also collect a fee even when the MDJ sets straight bail. The criminal legal system seizes this money even if the person appears for all court dates and complies with every condition of bail—even if the person is found not guilty or the charges are withdrawn.
Each judicial district determines its bail retention fee. This table displays the bail retention fee in each county based on publicly available information and our research.
Delaware County has the highest bail retention fee in the state, taking a 40% cut of the bail money posted.
People can lose hundreds and even thousands of dollars from bail retention fees. For the impoverished people who make up the vast majority of the criminal legal system, losing even a hundred dollars can be crippling—the difference between making rent and homelessness.NEXT: back to home page