How Bail and Bonds Work
At some point in our lives, we may know someone who is arrested or be arrested ourselves. It is imperative to educate yourself on what you can do to help yourself should you find yourself in this situation. When a loved one is arrested, it is a time sensitive matter. Understanding how bails and bonds work will ensure you handle the situation properly and efficiently.
What is a Bail?
A bail is an agreement between the defendant and the court of authority. You agree to pay a certain amount of money as a guarantee that you will appear in court as ordered to address your case. When you go to court for your case, you will receive your money back. If you cannot pay your set bail amount, you will remain incarcerated until your court date.
How Bail is Prepared and Chosen?
The court will hold your bail hearing after your initial booking and recording of your belongings and vital information. At said hearing, a judge will discuss and decide your bail amount within 48 hours of your initial arrest. The court considers many factors when deciding your bail.
First and foremost, the judge may decide to quash any need for a bail. Another scenario may be that the judge utilizes a bail schedule to determine the bail amount. The court will consider external and extenuating circumstances as well as employment, family ties, and whether this was your first offense. The judge has the power to reduce your bail amount based on these circumstances.
What is a Bail Bond?
A bail bond is the concept of paying a small percentage for the final amount of the arrested person’s bail, and the bondsman loaning the remainder of the funds to post bail. This is used as a form of collateral. Collateral can also be in the form of jewelry, the deed to your house or even your automobile. This is used as a security measure to ensure the “loan” will be repaid to the bail bondsman.
The court will refund the bail you posted following your court date. If you do not appear at your court date, you do not receive any money and/or property back. Bail bonds are a great solution if you have been arrested and want to avoid incarceration until trial. Be forewarned, if you purposely avoid appearing at your scheduled court date, bounty hunters will likely trace your whereabouts and revert you back to custody.
Types of Bail Bonds
There are several types of bail bonds available if you or someone you know is arrested and needs monetary assistance.
- Immigration Bonds will allow you to be discharged from custody if you are seized by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.
- Property Bonds are used if you possess real property, such as a car or home, where the bondsman will engage in a collateral trade with you instead of a monetary deposit. A lien will be recorded on the property to protect the loan. If you do not appear at your court date, the bondsman has all rights to sell the property.
- Surety Bonds are protected by an insurance organization and are most utilized bond by bondsmen that prefer monetary protection for their bond loans.
- Release on Own Recognizance occurs when a judge decides to remove any set bail amount. This situation is most common when it is a first offense and/or you are not perceived as someone who will flee, also referred to as a “flight risk.”
- Cite Out is utilized when a person is apprehended performing an act that is against the law and instead of the officer booking the person into custody, the officer issues a legal citation mandating the person to appear at a scheduled court date.
Securing a Bail Bond
You are typically required to provide a bail bondsman a non-refundable premium fee to ensure you repay the loan. Rates are typically 10% to 20 % of the initial loan. If you are represented by an attorney, a bondsman may offer a discount. You will want a bondsman that charges the lowest premium, as you may also be responsible for attorney, court, and application fees.
Can’t Afford a Bail Bond?
If you cannot afford a bail bond, you can request a bail hearing. You will have an opportunity at this hearing to request the judge lower the bail amount. However, be prepared to explain the reasoning behind your request.
Call Us for Help
If you or a loved one find yourself in this unfortunate situation, we encourage you to contact our law office. The likelihood of receiving a discount or reduction on your bail bond, or getting your bail amount removed is higher if you are represented by an attorney. We can provide you with sound legal advice and walk you through the process.