Encountering any experience for the very first time is always memorable, but when the first experience involves being arrested for a criminal offense, the memories you make are rarely ever pleasant. Fortunately, even this type of dire circumstance can be improved upon by using the bail bond system to avoid being stuck in jail while awaiting your court date. If you or someone you love has just been arrested and you need a better understanding of how the bail bond system works, the following information is sure to help.
What does it mean to post bail?
Paying a fee to the court in the form of bail is a financial guarantee that the defendant will appear in court when ordered to do so. Bail bond agreements typically contain wording to this effect, as well as listing any other stipulations the court is requiring, such as avoiding travel outside the area without the permission of the court and abiding by all local, state, and federal laws. It is important to note that posting bail is not an admission of guilt and is not a factor considered by the court when rendering a verdict.
What is most likely to occur after the arrest?
Having contact with a law enforcement office does not necessarily mean that an arrest will take place. However, if it does happen, the arrested party will face one of the following outcomes:
- they may be arrested and then released with a summons to appear in court
- they may be arrested and required to post a preset bail amount before they can be released
- they may be arrested and required to remain in custody until the court approves a bail amount, usually through a formal bail hearing process
Less serious offenses typically have a preset bond amount that makes it possible for the arrested party to more easily post bail and be released soon after booking. This benefits the local law enforcement agency and court system by helping to prevent overcrowding in county jails and holding facilities while also making it easier for people to maintain a more normal life while working through legal issues.
If the crime is more serious, the arrested party may have no option to post bail until they appear before the judge for arraignment or for a bail hearing. Some violent offenses, such as murder or rape, may require the defendant to remain in jail until and during their trial with no opportunity to post bail.
Is formal booking required before bail can be posted?
Booking is an administrative function that law enforcement agencies use after the arrest has been made. Any formal arrest will include the booking process, and bail will not be able to be posted until after the arrested party has been booked. Those who are arrested and booked should understand that they will be fingerprinted and have an entry made into the criminal history system as a result of the booking process.
What determines the amount of the bail bond?
Several factors can affect the amount of a defendant's bail bond. One of the most important of these is whether the person is considered to be a flight risk. Someone who lives in the area and has been arrested for the first time on a non-violent charge should expect to have a much lower bail bond amount than someone who has a significant criminal history and does not live in the area. By placing a much larger bail amount on defendants who are more likely to be a flight risk, the court is helping to ensure the accused will comply with the stipulations of their bail bond agreements.
What happens to the money paid to the bail bond agent?
When a bail bond agent agrees to post bond for a defendant, they are agreeing to post the full amount. The defendant pays only a small percentage of the total, often 10 percent, as a nonrefundable fee to the bail bond agent for their service.
When you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with a crime, contacting a bail bond agent to assist you with posting bond can help you continue to live in your home, attend work or school, and care for your family while you await your court date.