Following your arrest, you will be processed by the police department and arraigned at a hearing with a judge. If this is your first arrest and you’re charged with a minor crime, you’ll probably be released on a promise to appear for future court dates.
But that’s not guaranteed. The crime you’re charged with may have a predetermined bail amount. If the judge thinks there’s an issue with the situation or the charges are serious, you will need to pay bail and promise to follow specific rules before you’re released.
If you have the money on hand or can get it from family and friends, you can leave after you pay bail. Another option may be working with a bail bondsman. These companies can post your bail for a fee if someone agrees to be responsible for the amount if you don’t appear for a later court hearing.
As the number and seriousness of the crimes increases, so will the bail amount. It helps if you have no criminal history, have ties to the community, and are not a substance abuser. The bail amount may be less if you’re a first-time offender. But if you’re charged with a serious, violent crime, you may not afford to pay bail, be unable to post a bond, or the judge may decide you should stay in jail.
If the charge is less severe, you may get a suspended sentence and spend little or no time incarcerated. There are three types of crimes – felonies, misdemeanors, and petty misdemeanors:
Fraud, for example, can be a:
The Class C felony maximum imprisonment in Hawaii is five years. Depending on the amount involved in the fraud and it’s your first offense, you may be sentenced to probation (court-ordered supervision in your community). You’ll have a list of conditions or requirements you must meet to stay on probation and avoid jail time.
You will likely face much less punishment if this is your first conviction in Hawaii. If you have:
These much stiffer prison terms are one reason to avoid a conviction. Even if your prior felony conviction has nothing to do with fraud, it exposes you to a mandatory minimum prison sentence.
If you’re arrested for the first time, and you face mental health and substance abuse challenges, you may qualify for a diversion program, such as Hawaii’s Letting Everyone Advance with Dignity (LEAD) program, which may, depending on the charge you face, divert you from the criminal justice system.