By  Jedidiah McKeehan

When people get arrested, the first thing that comes to mind is, “Oh no, I’m going to jail and who knows how long I’ll have to stay.”

But what they often forget about is the enormous cost that can be associated just with getting arrested and going — to court even if the charges are dismissed. Costs like:

  • Bonds
  • Attorney’s Fees
  • Court Cost, Fines, and Restitution
  • Probation

Let’s go into what each one of these costs could look like.

Paying a Bond

The first cost associated with getting arrested is paying a bond. When you get arrested, a bond gets set on your case. For misdemeanors, it’s $1,000.00 to $2,500.00 and for major offenses it can be as much a $50,000.00 or $100,000.00. Ten percent of the bond amount has to be paid to a bail bondsman to get you out of jail.

Now, this isn’t a fee you can pay while you are in jail, so, assuming the person that pays your bond will want to be reimbursed, you will have to pay your rescuer a minimum of $100.00 just to get out of jail.  And remember, bonds paid to bondsmen are non-refundable, so even if you are found not guilty, you do not get this money back.

Attorney’s Fees

The second cost associated with getting arrested is attorney’s fees. Now, for a small misdemeanor charge, you can expect to pay around $1,000.00 and even as much as $10,000.00, depending on the offense. And in the case of a major charge, like murder, you could easily be looking at over $100,000.00 in attorney’s fees.

Keep in mind this charge is just to have legal representation with you in court.

Court Cost, Fines, and Restitution

The third costs associated with getting arrested is court cost, fines, and restitution. Often times, when the District Attorney brings charges up against someone, even if they agree to dismiss it, they will often want the defendant to pay court costs, or the cost to the county (through the District Attorney) just for bringing the charges against you. That could be anywhere from $200.00 to $900.00.

In addition, if you agree to plead guilty, you will be charged a fine, even if you don’t go to jail. You could wind up paying hundreds or thousands of dollars in fines. If you have damaged something or stolen someone’s property, you will most likely be required to pay restitution back to the victim for the value of what you have damaged or stolen.


The fourth cost associated with getting arrested is probation and everything related to it. If you enter a plea of guilty, you may not get thrown in jail but given probation where you have to report every month to a probation officer. You often have to pay $40.00 to $50.00 a month just for the privilege of being on probation and if you cannot afford to pay that, and you end up missing a monthly meeting, you could find yourself in jail for violating your probation.

In addition to the monthly charge to a probation officer, you may be responsible for the cost of an ankle bracelet, an interlock device on your vehicle, or a drug test, and those could pile on hundreds of extra dollars a month just to for the “privilege” of being on probation.

As you can tell, it can be pretty expensive to get arrested. And this is on top of the prospect of going to jail for some period of time.


Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit for more information about this and other legal issues.