In the United States, around 500,00 people are held in their local jails while waiting for their trial because they can’t pay bail. What’s surprising is that most of them are in prison for low-level offenses.
A bail bond is a contract between the person arrested and the bondsman. The person detained pledges to pay the bondsman a specific amount of money if they don’t appear in court on their scheduled date. If the defendant shows up in court, the bail bond is canceled, and the money is returned to the defendant. But if the defendant fails to appear in court, the bondsman has the right to pursue them for the full amount of the bail bond.
Bail bonds are used to ensure that defendants appear in court. The amount of money required for a bail bond is different from case to case and can be set by a judge, prosecutor, or law enforcement officer. Bail bonds are usually required when the accused has been arrested for a serious crime, when the accused is considered dangerous, or when other factors increase the risk that an accused will not appear in court.
If you’ve been arrested, consider following these four tips to avoid staying in jail for a long time while waiting for your trial.
Two Types of Bail
- Secured. Secured bail requires that the defendant post some form of security, such as cash or property that will be forfeited if the defendant does not appear in court.
- Unsecured. Unsecured bail does not require any security but is riskier for the defendant because they could lose the money if they do not show up in court.
How Does A Bail Bond Work?
Typically, their bail is set when someone is arrested and taken into custody. This is the amount of money that must be paid to the court for the person to be released from jail while their case is pending. Sometimes, the person can’t afford to pay bail, and they remain in prison. In some cases, the defendant may be released on their own recognizance. Meaning, they don’t have to pay bail, but they must show up for all of their court appearances.
In some cases, the defendant can get a bail bond. This is a bond that’s posted by a bail bondsman. The bail bondsman agrees to pay the bail amount if the defendant doesn’t appear for their court dates. In return, the defendant pays the bail bondsman a fee, which is typically 10% of the bail amount. So if the bail amount is $10,000, the defendant would pay the bail bondsman $1,000.
If the defendant does show up for all of their court dates, the bail bondsman gets their money back. If the defendant doesn’t show up, the bail bondsman can go after them to get that money back. They may also have to pay the penalty to the court.
Bail bond agents are licensed and regulated by the state in which they do business. All bail bond agents must be sure that their clients meet specific criteria, such as not being a flight risk or a danger to the community. Bail bond agents are also not allowed to profit from the bail amount, meaning they can’t charge more than their fee.
What Is A Bail Hearing?
After arrest, a defendant must be arraigned within 48 hours. The arraignment is where the defendant enters a plea of guilty or not guilty. If the judge set bail, then it’s likely that they will also hear arguments during the arraignment on whether or not to remand (keep) or release (bailout) the defendant.
The judge will hear evidence from both sides – either from the evidence presented by prosecutors who are against setting bail or from defense witnesses who testify as to why they believe their client should be released. It is up to the judge to make an objective appraisal of each side’s argument based on what information is available at that point in time.
Today, most criminal defendants are released on bail pending their next court date. There is, however, no set rule, and the decision to grant or deny bail rests solely within the discretion of the judge.
If a defendant is not released on bail at the arraignment, they may ask for a Bail Hearing to be held where the judge will decide whether or not to release them on bail. This hearing must take place within seven days of the arraignment. The prosecutor presents evidence against setting bail, and the defense can present witnesses or other evidence supporting the release. The judge will decide whether to grant or deny bail after considering all of the evidence.
How Much Is A Bail Bond?
Bail bond amounts vary based on the severity of the crime but typically range from $100 to $10,000. The accused person must post the bail amount to be released from jail while awaiting trial. If the accused doesn’t appear in court, the bail bond is forfeited, and the person may be subject to arrest.
Some people choose to post a bail bond themselves, while others may require the help of a bail bondsman. A bail bondsman typically charges a nonrefundable fee of 10-15% of the total bail amount. For example, if the bond is set at $1,000, the cost would be $100-$150. Bail bondsmen are licensed and regulated by state governments.
There are a few alternatives to posting a bail bond. The court may release the accused on their own recognizance, which means that the accused does not have to post bail but must agree to appear in court when required. The court may also decide to detain the accused pending trial, which means they will remain in jail until the trial is over. In some cases, the accused may be eligible for release on house arrest or through a pretrial services program. Finally, if the accused cannot afford to post bail, they may request that the court lower the amount or dismiss the charge.