In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, you can earn a bounty if you’re caught by at least one witness while performing illegal activities.
When the crime gets reported, it will trigger local guards to attempt arrest if they see you. In this scenario, how can the Dragonborn clear its reputation?
You can remove your bounty in Skyrim by declaring thaneship, going to jail and serving your sentence, or paying the bounty. You can also get guards to ignore your bounty with the Bribery or Persuasion perks from the Speech skill tree. The Thieves Guild will unlock other ways to reduce your bounty by completing small jobs for Delvin Mallory and Vex.
Option 1: Declare Thaneship
Once you’ve completed several quests within a hold, the Dragonborn will have the chance of earning the title of Thane. If a guard prompts you to pay for your crimes, you can declare your thaneship to get your bounty forgiven. However, this option only works once and will only apply to crimes below 1,000 gold.
Option 2: Kill All Witnesses
If an NPC sees you performing any illegal activity, you can kill it to instantly remove the bounty for that bounty. The main drawback of this method is that there may be more than one witness, and if you’re caught murdering someone you’ll instantly gain a 1,000 gold bounty.
Option 3: Jail Time
Once you’re in jail, you can sleep in the cell bed to serve your time. In this scenario, you will lose the progress you had in one or more skill levels and get released without the stolen goods you had in your inventory.
With a bounty of 700 gold or higher, you will stay seven in-game days in prison, which is the maximum amount coded in the game. This scenario will erase all of your accumulated skill level progress.
In The Reach hold, you will get teleported to the Cidhna Mine and will need to pick an axe and active any of the silver ore veins available within the mine. If you’re arrested and thrown into Cidhna Mine once you’ve completed The Forsworn Conspiracy quest, you must complete the quest No One Escapes Cidhna Mine to escape the prison.
Option 4: The Bounty Hunter
If you have more than 1,000 gold bounty in a hold, you may encounter a bounty hunter while you’re at a different hold.
Option 5: Taking Over a Hold
If you’re completing the Civil War questline, regardless of whether you’re aligned with the Imperial Legion or Stormcloaks, you can reset your bounty whenever a hold is taken by your faction.
Alternatives to Removing Bounty in Skyrim
The game offers several methods in which you can get guards to stop attempting arrest or reduce your bounty. None of the following methods will completely remove your bounty.
Option 1: Escape Prison
Every time you’re thrown into jail, your character will only have a single lockpick in its inventory. In some cities, you can also find additional lockpicks and food items within the prison cell.
Option 2: Thieves Guild
To unlock this option, you must first become a member of the Thieves Guild. Once you’ve completed five side quests from Delvin Mallory or Vex in a specific hold, you will unlock Special Jobs for that area.
This will also unlock the option to bribe a guard to ignore a bounty. However, note that other guards can still confront the Dragonborn about the pending bounty.
This option works similarly to the Bribery and Persuasion perks available in the Speech skill tree.
Option 3: Bribery and Persuasion Speech Perks
If your character has at least level 75 in Speech, you will always have the option of getting a guard to ignore your bounty as long as you have a low bounty and you’re not trespassing when the guard confronts you.
This option has a cooldown of 2 in-game days before you can attempt it again.
In the Speech skill tree you can unlock specific perks to unlock new dialogue options with guards:
You can unlock this perk at level 30 Speech. If a guard confronts you, a dialogue option will appear to bribe the guard to ignore your crime.
This action will only work on the most recently witnessed crime, but it will clear your bounty immediately and your items won’t get confiscated.
If you choose the option to ask the guard to ignore the crime, it won’t remove the entire bounty, but the guard won’t try to arrest you and, instead, will ignore you.
Note that other guards who weren’t involved in the bribery may still attempt an arrest.
As an alternative, this perk will unlock dialogue options with a guard that will allow you to ask for clemency if you have a low bounty. However, this doesn’t erase your bounty and other guards may still confront you about it.
How Bounties Work in Skyrim
Each of the nine holds in Skyrim will keep track of the Dragonborn’s crimes separately.
In Raven Rock, added by the Dragonborn DLC, any witnessed crime and bounty also get tracked within that zone. The Redoran Guards will act the same as if you were questioned by a guard in Skyrim, meaning that you can persuade or bribe them to get off the hook.
In the base game, the Tribal Orc strongholds also track your crimes independently from the rest of Skyrim.
However, since there are no jails within the stronghold, the Orc guard at the entrance only allows for the player to pay the fine or resist arrest.
Any illegal action performed by a follower will also count towards your bounty if they get caught. If you perform any crime while successfully sneaking, your character won’t get detected and, therefore, no bounty is added.
Animals can also count as witnesses, in which case you can only kill them if you want to erase the bounty right away.
How Do You Get a Bounty in Skyrim
The full rundown of crimes in Skyrim are:
|Half of the stolen item’s value
|If you’re caught taking any item whose action is tagged as “Steal”, you gain a bounty.
Note that stolen items are permanently marked in the inventory with red.
|If you’re caught picking an owned door or container’s lock will result in a base bounty.
You obtain the bounty regardless of whether the lockpicking attempt was successful or not.
|The Dragonborn will receive a single warning to leave the area. If you oblige, you won’t get the bounty.
You will receive the bounty after 30 seconds if you continue to trespass. The witness will call the guards or attack you.
Some areas in Skyrim will trigger an instant bounty when caught trespassing.
|Disturbing the Jarl’s peace
|Dropping a weapon and loitering near a dead body within a city (regardless if you killed the person or not) will prompt a guard to confront you and potentially grant you a bounty or attempt arrest.
|The chance of being detected by an NPC while pickpocketing will depend on your Sneak level combined with the weight of the item stolen.
Just looking into an NPC’s inventory won’t count as pickpocketing.
|Attacking any non-hostile NPC will be considered assault.
A hand-to-hand brawl triggered by an NPC conversation won’t count as assault as long as you don’t use weapons, spells, or wear apparel that harms enemies within a perimeter.
Shouting won’t count as assault unless you hit a citizen. You will still get a warning from a city guard, regardless of whether you hit someone or not.
You will also get a bounty for assault you feed on someone while wearing Namira’s Ring or while being transformed into a Vampire or Werewolf.
|You will get the bounty every time you mount a horse whose action label is labeled in red.
|Unlocking the jail cell’s door or just activating an escape route will add 100 gold, regardless of witnesses.
|Forging a Business Ledger
|This action can only be performed during The Numbers Job side quests given by Delvin Mallory in the Thieves Guild.
|Forging the Dragonsreach Prison Registry Ledger
|This action can only happen during the Imitation Amnesty quest given by Delvin Mallory in the Thieves Guild.
|You won’t get a bounty from attacking in self-defense unless you’re getting attacked by a guard.
If you cause an environmental death, it will not count as murder.
|Public Werewolf or Vampire Lord Transformation
|If any NPC witnesses you during your first transformation will incur a bounty, but not for subsequent ones.
If someone witnesses you turning back into your original form, it also counts as a crime.
Most NPCs will turn hostile to you, which can increase your chances of getting fined from assault if you attack back.
How to Pay Off Bounty When Guards Are Attacking Me?
If you’re already getting attacked by guards, you can stop the fight by sheathing your weapon. This action will trigger the usual dialogue where you can pay your fine, go to jail, resist arrest, or other special dialogue options. However, this action may bug at times, so make sure to quick save!
How Do I Pay My Bounty Without Losing My Stolen Items?
Store all stolen items and gold in a container before getting approached by a guard. You can use your owned containers or use outdoor containers before triggering the dialogue with the guard. However, if you don’t own a container you risk the chance of losing your items when it respawns its content.
Is There a Console Command to Remove Bounty in Skyrim?
Write ‘player. paycrimegold’ in the console command box to remove your current bounties in all holds.