36 Hour Rule / Bail Procedures

Get me out of jail already. We already discussed the two main factors triggering bail: (1) jurisdiction; and (2) the type and level of offense. Now, get me out of the clink. Seriously, how long can they keep me here? It smells like urine, the food is terrible, and it is freezing. I need to get out!

Thankfully, the Minnesota Rules of Criminal Procedure provide the thirty-six and forty-eight hour rules (Rule 4). These rules provide time limits on how long someone can be held in custody following a warrantless arrest.

36-Hour Rule: Appearance Before a Judge

Within thirty-six hours of arrest, a defendant must be brought in front of a judge without unnecessary delay.[1] But, the thirty-six hours does not include the day of arrest, Sundays, or legal holidays. The best way to track this is: the clock starts running at midnight after the day of arrest not including Sundays or legal holidays. It will then end on noon the following calendar day not including Sundays or legal holidays.

For example, if you are arrested at 10:00 p.m. on a Monday, your thirty-six hours will start ticking at midnight on Tuesday and expire Wednesday at noon. If you are arrested on Saturday at 10:00 p.m., your thirty-six hours will start ticking at midnight on Monday and expire Tuesday at noon. And so forth.

What if you are held beyond thirty-six hours and you have not seen a judge yet? In misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, and felony cases, the defendant must be released if the thirty-six hour rule is violated. The court may order an extension of time “for cause” in some cases (Rule 34.02). 

48-Hour Rule: Probable Cause Determination

Within forty-eight hours of arrest, a judge must make a probable cause determination without unnecessary delay.[2] Unlike the thirty-six hour rule, the forty-eight hours starts immediately upon arrest and includes the day of the arrest, Sundays, and legal holidays.

If a complaint (charging document) is signed by a judge within forty-eight hours, or probable cause is found, then the defendant will remain in custody. But, the thirty-six hour rule will still be in play.

In practice, probable cause for continued detention is often found (also called a PC Hold in many jurisdictions) within forty-eight actual hours of arrest. The thirty-six hour rule will then take over. In some serious felony cases, prosecutors will request a time extension for cause.

Sometimes within thirty-six or forty-eight hours of arrest, bail is set. Either by the jail, a judge, or with help from the defendant’s attorney. In that event, what do you do next? 

Bail & Bail Bonds

If you can afford the bail, pay it.[3] Cash will be required by the jail. But you can get the bail money back at the end of the case minus any fines due. If you cannot afford to pay cash bail, do not worry, many people do not have the resources to do so. In that case, bail bond companies are a more affordable option.

For example, if your bail is set at $10,000 and you do not have that money available in cash, then contact a bail bonds company. They will offer to post a bail bond[4] for your case (also sometimes referred to as just a “bond”). In exchange the bond company will ask for something near 10% of the bail to be paid to them. The money you pay the bond company will be non-refundable, but it is often a more affordable option. Most, if not all, bond companies take credit cards in addition to other forms of payment.


Maybe three parts was not enough for this blog series on bail on bond procedures in Minnesota. There is certainly more ground to cover, especially for domestic violence related cases. In the meantime, hopefully there is enough information to help you better understand bail and bond procedures. If not, please contact us by phone at 612-547-3199 or email at ambroselegal@icloud.com  In the meantime, we hope somebody “Bailed You Out!”

Robert H. Ambrose is a criminal defense attorney in Minnesota. He will do everything he can to get you out of the clink, as long as it is legal. He provides affordable, aggressive, and understanding representation. If you, or someone you know, needs help getting out of jail, contact our office for a free consultation.   

[1] In juvenile cases, the thirty-six hour rule is applied differently (See Rule 5.07, subd.1).

[2] In juvenile cases, the forty-eight hour rule does apply.

[3] Even if you can afford to pay the cash bail, in some circumstances it may not make sense. For example, if the bail is set at $25,000 and you have that amount of cash, but not much more, then the wise decision is probably to use a bond company. It will be cheaper and you will not risk losing the $25k.

[4] A bond is a surety (or security interest) pledged on your behalf to secure your appearance in court. If you do not appear in court, and the bond is forfeited, the bond company will either come after you with a bounty hunter or forfeit the collateral you, or a co-signer, provided to secure the bond. The collateral is often property, such as a home, or additional assets. Additionally, most reputable bail bond companies are licensed, insured, and have strict underwriting requirements to write a bond.


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