What is Bail
Bail is the term that is used when a tangible asset is pledged to or deposited with a court in order to allow the temporary release of an individual. Generally, the option of bail is extended to persons who have been charged with a crime that merits incarceration between the time of arrest and the date that the matter will be tried in a court of law. Here is some information about how the concept of bail works, including the qualifications that are usually associated with the privilege of posting bail.
Bail may be granted after an arrest has taken place. Depending on the jurisdiction and the nature of the crime, it is possible for arrested persons to obtain bail within a few hours after entering jail. This is especially true for relatively minor offenses and in situations where it is determined that the chances of the suspect fleeing the immediate area are very low. The actual amount of the bail can vary from a relatively small sum to an exorbitant figure that would intimidate many people. Fortunately, it is not often necessary for the court to receive the entire bail amount before temporarily releasing the suspect. This is due to a process that is known as bail bonding.
Bail bonds are essentially pledges to be financially responsible for the bail set by the court. Depending on the circumstances, the suspect may post a fraction of the total bail and obtain a release until the court date. In other instances, a relative or close friend may provide the bail money required by the court, along with a pledge on the total debt. Bail bondsmen also operate in many locations, and may act as a third party in obtaining the temporary release. Generally, the amount of bail money that is required by the court is around one tenth of the total bail amount.
Once bailed out of jail, the suspect usually is expected to abide by certain restrictions until the case is heard before a judge. In many cases, travel outside the jurisdiction of the court is prohibited or only possible with the knowledge and consent of the court. The court may also require electronic monitoring or scheduled visits with law officials during the interim period. Last, the suspect agrees to attend any and all proceedings related to his or her case. Failing to comply with all the conditions set forth in the bail arrangement can lead to loss of the bail money, and an immediate return to a jail cell.
How is Bail Set?
A judge sets a bail after obtaining information about the charge and background of a defendant. The judge makes a decision as to what amount and type of bail is necessary to guarantee that a defendant will attend court. The judge bases the decision upon factors such as:
• the nature and seriousness of the charge;
• the apparent likelihood of conviction;
• the likely sentence if convicted;
• the defendant’s criminal record, if any;
• the defendant’s ties to the community;
• the defendant’s dangerousness;
• any prior history of missing court dates; and
• whether the defendant was out on bail when arrested on the present charge
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF BAIL?
When bail is set, the court will specify one or more of the following types of bail:
• Cash Only – The full amount of the bail must be posted in cash.
• Cash with 10 Percent Option – Ten percent of the set bail amount must be posted in cash. The remaining 90 percent does not have to be paid unless the defendant fails to appear for a required court date, and the court issues an order that the rest be paid.
• Release on Own Recognizance (ROR) – No money is posted, but the defendant signs a written promise to appear as required.
• Property Bond – A lien is placed against real property that is posted as a property bail bond. The property owner must have the required equity so that, if the defendant fails to appear in court, the lien can be paid from the equity. There are specific requirements that must be met in order to post property as bail. Information about these requirements is available from the Superior Court Bail Unit.
• Bail Bond – In exchange for a non-refundable fee, a licensed bail bondsman posts a surety bond (written obligation) with the court.
All bails require a non-refundable filing fee of $50 unless the fee is waived by the court.
This website provides information about the bail process. However, in no instance should this information be construed as legal advice. If you are seeking legal advice regarding a bail or another matter you must contact your attorney.