How Long Can You Be Held Without Bond?

Updated December 14, 2023
8 min read
How Long Can You Be Held Without Bond?


In the United States, a person cannot be held indefinitely without the court setting a bond or having a hearing. So, how long can you be held without a bond? In most states, you are entitled to a bond hearing within 24 hours. However, in some states, you may have to wait up to 72 hours after your arrest.

If you have not had a bond hearing within 72 hours, it would be wise to seek the advice of a lawyer to answer your questions regarding the process. You may be able to have a friend or family member contact local law firms that represent clients in criminal cases to protect your rights. It’s important to find an attorney that you trust and with whom you can establish a trusted attorney-client relationship. If a bail bond has been set and you can’t afford to pay the entire amount, a bond agent may be able to help you post bail.

Factors a Judge Will Consider When Determining Bond

The amount of money required for bail should be high enough to ensure that the defendant will return to court on the hearing date. However, it shouldn’t be set so high that the defendant has no reasonable chance of being able to post the bail. When determining whether to set a bond and what amount the bond should be, the judge will consider many factors, including the following.

The nature of the crime committed

If a person is accused of committing a serious crime, such as one of violence that resulted in death or severe injury to the victim, the judge may not immediately set a bond or may set the bond at a much higher amount. If, however, the alleged crime is a misdemeanor, the bond set by the judge will usually be a lesser amount.

character reference letter for court might be beneficial in providing insights into the defendant's lifestyle and credibility, potentially influencing the decision-making process regarding bail. If, however, the alleged crime is a misdemeanor, the bond set by the judge will usually be a lesser amount. The same character reference letter can still be valuable evidence, demonstrating that the defendant has strong ties to the community, which might further reduce the perceived flight risk and potentially the bond's amount.

Whether the defendant is a flight risk

If the defendant has previously fled the jurisdiction to avoid arrest or otherwise failed to appear in court, the judge may consider not setting bail or setting a higher amount of bail to help prevent the defendant from fleeing. If the defendant is a wealthy person with the financial ability to flee the country and has been charged with a crime that could result in lengthy jail time, the judge may be inclined to set a higher bail or none at all. 

Whether the defendant is a safety risk

If the judge believes that the victim’s personal safety is at risk or that the defendant poses a risk to the community at large, the judge may deny a bond or set a very high bond to help alleviate these risks. 

For example, when the charge is for domestic violence or abuse, the judge may consider the testimony of the victim at a bond hearing when determining whether or not to set a bond and the amount of any bond. 

Can You Be Held Without Obligation for Uncertain Time?

All states in the United States have laws regarding how long a person can be held without a bond hearing. Usually, the question of how long you can be held in jail without bond is directly tied to the crime the defendant has been accused of committing.

What does no bond mean?

When a person has been arrested, and his or her status is listed as “no bond,” it means one of two things:

  1. No bond has been set yet because there has not been a bond hearing; or

  2. The judge has decided that the defendant should be held without bond. 

What if you can’t afford the bond?

If a bond is set, it cannot be oppressive or unreasonable. The judge should consider the defendant’s ability to pay the bond amount. The bond should be set high enough that it ensures that the defendant will appear in court but not so high that the defendant could not reasonably be able to pay. 

If the defendant has no history of fleeing justice and the crime is not serious, there is no reason that the defendant should not be able to post bond and be released while awaiting trial. 

For what reasons do judges deny bond?

In most cases, the court sets a bond for the accused. However, there are cases in which the judge refuses to set a bond, and the defendant must stay in jail while awaiting trial. Some situations when a bond is denied include:

  • If the crime is punishable by death or life imprisonment;

  • When the defendant poses a grave danger to the alleged victim or the community;

  • When the defendant is a repeat offender;

  • If the defendant is a flight risk;

  • When the defendant was already out on bail and violated the terms of his or her release; or

  • If the defendant was on probation or parole for a felony and committed another felony.


In the United States, an arrested person is usually entitled to be released on bond or to have a bond hearing within 24 to 72 hours. In most cases, a bond is set, and the defendant either pays the bond amount or contracts with a bail bond agency to pay a percentage in order to be released.

However, there are cases in which the judge denies bail. These cases are rare and usually occur when the defendant has been accused of a very serious crime or is a repeat offender, and the court believes that he or she may flee the jurisdiction or harm the alleged victim or another person. 

It is important to know your rights and seek legal advice if you, a family member, or a friend are faced with an arrest. 

Article by
Inna Chumachenko

Inna Chumachenko is the Content Lead at Lawrina. She is responsible for managing all the content found on the blog, guides, and other website pages. Inna has a degree in philology and a vast interest in law. In her role at Lawrina, Inna oversees the content team, establishes collaborations with writers, and curates content from various contributors.

If you have any questions or suggestions regarding the content for Lawrina, please feel free to contact Inna directly via email at or connect with her on LinkedIn.