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How Bail Works

What happens after an arrest?

Immediately after a person has been arrested, they'll be taken to a police station or county jail for booking. There they will be processed and scheduled to appear before a judge. The judge is responsible for determining their conditions for release.

How do bail bonds work?

When an individual is arrested for a crime in the State of Washington, typically that person will be taken to a local law enforcement station for booking, prior to incarceration in a station lock-up or county jail. Once arrested and booked, the defendant has several options for release pending the conclusion of his or her case. Bail is designed to guarantee the appearance of a defendant in court at the time directed by the judge.

What are the release options if someone is arrested?

There are three basic release options available. The three options are

  • Surety Bond
  • Cash Bail
  • Release on Personal Recognizance (P.R.)

What are Surety Bonds?

An alternative to cash bail is a surety bond. This process involves a contractual undertaking guaranteed by an admitted insurance company having adequate assets to satisfy the face value of the bond. The bail agent guarantees to the court that they will pay the bond forfeiture if a defendant fails to appear for their scheduled court appearances. The bail agent’s guarantee is made through a surety company and/or by pledging property owned by the bail agent.

For this service, the defendant is charged a premium (typically 10% of the bail amount in Washington). For example, if the bail amount is $10,000.00, the premium charged is $1,000.00. Prior to the posting of the surety bond, the defendant, friend or relative must contact a licensed bail agent. You can contact us toll-free at 800-622-9991. Once a bail agent is contacted, an interview or appointment will be scheduled immediately.

By involving the family and friends of a defendant, as well as through the acceptance of collateral, the bail agent can be reasonably assured that the defendant released on a surety bond will appear at all of his/her court appearances.

After this procedure is completed, the bail agent will post a bond for the full bail amount, financially guaranteeing the defendant’s return to court as scheduled.

With money on the line, the bail agent has a financial interest in supervising bailees and ensuring that they appear in court each and every time the court orders them to appear. If the defendant does not appear in court (skips), the bail agent has time and the financial incentive to find the defendant and bring him/her to court.

Cash Bail

Cash bail means a person must give the court or jail the total amount of the bail in cash. The cash will be held by the court until the defendant appears at all of his/her court cases and the case is concluded. Full cash bonds provide a powerful incentive for the defendant to appear in court. If the defendant appears for all of his/her scheduled court appearances, the cash bail should be returned in full.

Release on Personal Recognizance (P.R.)

Another method of release pending trial is through a pre-trial release program administered by the county or a law enforcement agency. Usually, the employees of these programs interview defendants in custody and make recommendations to the court regarding the release of individuals on their personal recognizance (i.e., without any financial security to ensure the defendant’s return).

The interview process is often conducted over the telephone, usually with little inquiry into the defendant’s background. The interview process attempts to determine whether the detainee is likely to appear in court. There is usually no verification of information provided by the defendant. Since no money, property, or bond is posted to secure the defendant’s appearance in court, he/she faces no personal economic hardship from the conscious decision not to appear in court.

how much does a bail bond (surety bond) cost?

In Washington, the bail premium, or fee, is typically 10 percent of the full bail amount. For example, if the bail amount is $10,000, the premium charged is $1,000.

How long does it take to be released from jail?

There are two types of jails: city jails and county jails. City jails are operated by city police departments and county jails are operated by the county sheriff. After a defendant is booked into a city jail (i.e., fingerprinted, photographed, warrants checked, etc.), it typically takes anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour to be released on bail. After a defendant is booked into a county jail, it usually takes anywhere from 2 to 6 hours to be released on bail. We wish we could speed up the process but the city and county jails operate at their own pace. All City Bail Bonds does everything possible to expedite the defendant’s release. Let us assure you we will be by your side every step of the way.

How much of the premium will I get back?

Typically the 10 percent premium is fully earned once the bail bond is posted with a jail or court. That is how bail agents and their surety companies make their money and pay their bills.

What is collateral?

Collateral is anything of value used to financially secure a bail bond.

What is a flight risk?

When a judge is deciding whether or not to grant bail, the biggest factor they consider is whether or not the defendant is a flight risk. A flight risk is someone who is likely to flee the country, state, or county in order to avoid being prosecuted for their alleged crimes. Check out our full article by clicking here to find out how judges determine if a defendant is a flight risk.

What an be used as collateral?

Some examples of collateral include signature, credit cards, houses, cars, boats, jewelry or electronic equipment (you get the idea).

When will collateral be returned?

Collateral is usually returned when the court has finished with the defendant’s case(s), exonerating the bail bond(s), and when all fees have been paid.

What is personal recognizance?

Personal recognizance (or own recognizance) is when a defendant is released by the court without having to post bail. This occurs in situations where the alleged crime is very minor, and the judge is confident that the accused will show up to their required court dates.

Can bail bonds agencies check for warrants?

Agencies are able to pull information from the court in real-time, giving you information about bail, warrants, and other helpful information used to get people out of jail.

Is bail worth it?

Bail bonds provide people with an option to get their loved one or friend out of jail, even when they don’t have the full bail amount in cash. Court cases can take months or even years, and that time is much better spent as a free person.

Are bail bonds returnable?

The 10% fee you pay an agency to bail someone out of jail is not refunded.