How does bail work?
When a friend or loved one has been arrested, the last thing you want to do is get lost in a sea of legal terms and jargon. But, unfortunately, the truth is that most people don't think about bail until they or someone they know needs it. This leads to confusion and fear for the person who has been arrested and their family and friends who want to help them.
Bail may seem complicated, but it doesn't have to be
We've created this guide, breaking down everything you need to know if your friend or loved one has been arrested and needs help posting bail. Our guide covers everything from understanding exactly what bail is, learning how the price of bail is set, the different options for posting bail, and so much more.
We break down our most asked questions and help you understand everything you need to know about how bail bonds work.
What happens when someone is arrested?
After a person is arrested, they are brought to jail and booked into custody. As part of the booking process, they will be searched, fingerprinted, have their mugshot taken, and their address will be documented. They'll also need to hand over any personal property they brought with them, including cellphones, wallets, money, and other valuables.
A defendant who has been arrested for a crime will be brought into court for a bail hearing, and the judge will review the facts of the criminal case. The judge will then either release the defendant from jail, set bail, or deny bail entirely.
For example, for a misdemeanor or low-level crime, bail may be set at $100-500. However, a higher level of crime could raise the bail amount to tens of thousands or even millions of dollars.
If the defendant is accused of a severe crime, such as murder, the judge may choose to keep the accused in jail throughout the defendant's criminal proceedings. Thus, judges play a huge role in how bail bonds work.
What are bail bonds?
Bail is a financial guarantee that the person who has been arrested will appear in court for their trial. The cash bail amount is held by the court to allow a defendant who has been arrested to be released from jail during the course of their criminal proceedings. Bail was invented to ensure that criminal defendants appear in court and not disappear while their case is pending in the legal system.
The court wants to make sure the defendant never fails to appear in court while at the same time giving them the freedom to stay out of jail during the course of their criminal proceedings.
How does a judge decide on the bail bond amount?
Judges have a lot of discretion in whether or not to set bail and what amount bail should be set at. During the bail hearing, the judge considers many factors when determining the appropriate bail bonds amount based on the specific facts of each case.
Bail is determined on an individual basis based on many factors, including the nature of the crime, the defendant's ties to the community, and whether or not the judge believes that the defendant will show up for their court date.
At the end of the day, the judge must feel comfortable that a defendant will attend every court appearance after being released from jail after posting bail.
Bail should not be confused with the fines and fees that a person may need to pay due to a criminal conviction.
What is personal recognizance?
If a judge is willing to release someone from jail without requiring them to post bail, that person will be released on personal recognizance. This means they are trusted to make court appearances and obey the law.
Personal recognizance may happen in some cases where the defendant has no ties to the community or if the crime is small enough and bail would not be an issue. It may also be an option for people who have shown persistence in attending court hearings despite financial struggles or living far from their court location. It's a good option for defendants with no criminal history who have a low risk of committing another crime while on release.
Can someone be denied bail?
On the other hand, bail can be denied if there is documented evidence that a defendant may flee from justice or break other laws while awaiting trial. Judges can also deny bail for violent crimes depending on the facts of the case and the perceived threat to public safety.
Judges can deny bail if the court believes that it will not deter the defendant from skipping future court hearings. Bail cannot be denied because of a person's financial circumstances or penalize them for wealth, poverty, race, color, or nationality.
The full bail amount is usually set at an amount that a person could pay on their own, but that doesn't mean that each defendant has the money to post the bond on their own. This is what makes bail bonds companies so helpful, which we'll explain in greater detail below.
How bail bonds work
There are four main options a defendant has once bail has been set:
- First, they can pay the court directly to post bond and immediately be released from jail. They will remain free for the duration of their court case and receive their cash bail back after their court case has been resolved, assuming they attended each court date and avoided further legal trouble while out on bail.
- They can choose not to pay bail, meaning they must remain in jail until their court case is finalized before being released from jail.
- They can hire a defense attorney, which sometimes allows the defendant to be released with a reduced bail amount.
- They can use a bail bond company to post bail without paying the full bail amount on their own.
Using a bail bondsman
The most common solution for posting bail is using a bail bonds company. A bail bonds company agrees to pay the full amount of a defendant's bail to the court in exchange for a 10% premium of the total bail amount.
This means that if the judge set your cash bail amount at $5,000, the bail bondsman would charge a one-time, non-refundable premium of $500 (10% of the $5,000 cash bail amount) in exchange for posting the full amount of money needed by the court.
By charging a 10% premium, a defendant can post bail they would otherwise be unable to afford. This allows the accused to post the bond, get out of jail, and get on with their lives during their criminal proceedings. This is the core of how bail bonds work.
One of the biggest benefits of working with a bail bond company is that it's more affordable. It significantly reduces the amount that the accused needs to pay to post bail.
How does collateral work?
Collateral plays a crucial role in how bail bonds work. Often, defendants will need to post collateral with their bail bondsman to cover the full bail amount and reduce the risk of the accused skipping their future court dates.
If the bail amount is set at $5,000, the defendant will pay the 10% premium ($500) to the bail bondsman and put up collateral that covers the value of the total bond amount. One example of this might be a used car with an approximate value of $5,000. The collateral is used to reduce the risk to the bail bond company, as they are already giving the full bail amount to the court on behalf of the accused.
It's crucial to point out that the only time collateral comes into play is if the accused fails to appear in court. If the accused is compliant, meaning attends all court hearings and court dates; then there's no risk to the bail bonds company. The collateral used to guarantee bail will be returned when the accused appears for their final hearing.
What happens if someone out on bail doesn't show up in court?
If a defendant fails to appear in court, bail can be revoked, and a warrant can be issued for the defendant. If this happens, the court will take the money the bail bonds company posted on behalf of the defendant, and the bail bondsman will take possession of any collateral put up by the accused and forfeit it to cover their losses.
The bail bondsman will then have a say as to whether or not they want to continue working with the defendant, but if they choose not to work with them anymore, nothing else can be done on behalf of the person who failed to appear at court.
To avoid being penalized for skipping bail, it's important for defendants out on bail - even those using a bail bonds company - to attend all court hearings and other scheduled events without fail. Failure is punishable by revocation of bail, and a person who fails to appear in court may be forced to pay back bail money, as well as face other consequences until the c
Here at All City Bail Bonds, our agents work closely with each of our clients to keep them informed about all of their upcoming court appearances because when a defendant doesn't appear in court, it's truly a lose-lose situation for everyone (the defendant, the court, and the bail bondsman).
Choosing a bail bond agency
A licensed bail bondsman is an expert at dealing with the bail process and can help you navigate the bail process. Everything from finding out the amount of bail for a family member or friend, to actually going to the jail and posting bail, to knowing each court date that the defendant must appear for, bail bondsmen understand this process inside and out.
Although they can't give legal advice about the criminal case, they can break down everything you need to know about the bail bonds process.
There are many bail bonds businesses out there, and not all of them can be trusted. If you're using someone for the first time, make sure to check their credentials. It would be best to only go with a company that will answer your questions with extreme accuracy and assurance.
In your search for the right bail bondsman, make sure they are fully licensed and have extensive experience in the field of court appearances and bail hearings. The sooner you find the right bail agent, the sooner you can secure the release of your friend or loved one.
As bail bondsmen, we understand how stressful it can be to get a call from a friend or loved one that they need to post bail. For many people, this is a time of crisis and emotional stress. Therefore, our number one priority is helping you understand what your next steps in the bail process are and get bail posted as soon as possible for your friend, family member, or loved one.
Here at All City Bail Bonds, we're proud to offer free, no-obligation bail consultations anytime, day or night. Contact us by giving us a call at: 1-800-622-9991