Presentencing

Presentencing is the period before you're brought to trial on criminal charges.  This is a good time to explore your options, and try to improve your chances of being released.  This works best for people who haven't been arrested yet, or who have been released on bail.  For people who are already in custody, friends and family may be more able to help.

Hire an Attorney

If you can afford it, hire an attorney.  According to former Orange County jail inmates, having your own legal representation can make all the difference in whether or not you can avoid jail.  Your attorney can also try to persuade the judge to set bail, which can improve your chances for a favorable trial.  Though inmates who cannot afford legal representation will be assigned a public defender, public defenders often have huge caseloads and will not be able to give your case the same level of personal attention as an independent lawyer.

Attorney's fees can be very expensive, usually starting around $1,000 and ranging to $20,000 and up.  Don't let these fees scare you into not retaining an attorney, however.  Consider the time and money you'd lose in jail.  Even if you have a low-paying job, the money you'd lose in serving time in jail will usually offset the cost of the legal fees.  Having spent time in jail can also significantly impact your chances of getting jobs in the future, so hiring an attorney is usually a sound investment.

Whether you ultimately hire an attorney or use a public defender, listen to their legal advice.  They may advise you not to take the first offer handed down by the prosecutor, or to wait instead of asking for a speedier trial.  These are legal professionals who are looking out for your best interests, so don't let your impatience about serving time cloud your judgment.

Bail Out

If you're offered bail, Orange County jail inmates advise that you take it.  Doing so will make it possible for you to spend some extra time with your family and setting up your affairs, in the event you are sentenced to jail time.  Getting out on bail will also allow you to appear in court wearing your own clothing, rather than a bright orange jumpsuit issued by the jail.  Showing up in your own neat, clean clothing can impact how you're seen by the judge, and may improve your chances of being released.