If you’ve been arrested, especially for the first time, there are many unknowns to face. For one, how does bail work? The bail process is commonly misunderstood and can be challenging to navigate without strong legal counsel. For those with close family or friends facing the bail process, we’ll discuss a few things you should do.
How Does Bail Work?
Bail is a temporary release from prison with a payment. It ranges by crime and can be dependent upon the defendant and the nature of the charges. It holds an agreement that a person will appear in court according to the judge’s orders and court schedule. While released on bail, people are allowed to resume their everyday lives, but they are barred by any conditions set by the court. For example, most who have been released on bail cannot travel internationally, but some are also limited to staying locally or inside state lines.
There are several factors that play into whether an individual is given the option for bail. At a hearing, the court will hear from both the defendant’s legal team and the prosecution on a person’s suitability to be released. Evidence may be presented to support the case that the person is or is not a danger to society. Then, depending on factors like the individual’s financial means, flight risk, and likelihood to repeat their crime, a sum is placed for the bail amount. While bail definition can vary by state and court system, many violent crimes or serial offenders do not have the option of bail.
Why You Should Contact an Attorney Before Posting Bail
The arresting officer is the person usually in charge of setting the initial bail amount before you get to court for the arraignment hearing. This is the case because of the “bail schedule,” which is a list of charges with a corresponding bail amount. (For example: Domestic Violence/ Corporal Injury to a Spouse (Penal Code 273.5(a) has a bail schedule of $50,000.00). Why it’s important to contact an attorney before a bail agent is because there is a chance the police officer either miscalculated the bail schedule or overcharged the offense. If this is a case, an attorney can save you potentially thousands of dollars by negotiating with the prosecutor and judge at the forthcoming arraignment hearing. Additionally, a referral from an attorney to a bail bond company will result in a bail bond premium around 7%. The standard premium bail bond companies charge without an attorney referral is 10%. If bail is set at $50,000.00, this amounts to a savings of $1,500.00.
How Can Someone Pay Bail?
Once faced with the option of bail, the process of paying it may seem confusing. Typically, a defendant or family is expected to post a certain amount of money or assets to allow the person to return to their life under conditions set during their hearing. If the defendant makes all required court appearances, some or all of the money will be returned, depending on the type of bail posted and whether a bail bond was used.
This is why bail law reform has been a topic of interest in the news. For many, they believe cash bail turns the penal system into a pay-to-play environment, allowing only those with financial liquidity or means to be released on bail. However, proponents of the current bail system argue that it’s a strong guarantee that the person will return to court for their hearing.
What is a Bail Bond?
A bail bond is essentially an insurance policy on the defendant’s guarantee to show up in court. A bond company will post the amount with a premium charged to the defendant or family, like 10%. If the individual does not show in court, whoever signed for the bail bond will owe the remaining 90% of bail amount to the bond company. If the person shows up as scheduled, the guarantor or signer of the bond will only owe the agreed upon percentage.
Guidance Through the Court Process
For defendants of every type of criminal case, it’s essential to have an experienced and dedicated legal defense team on your side. Consulting a highly skilled professional with a record for winning cases is the best asset for navigating the legal system successfully. For help clearing your record, understanding the bail system, and a strong defense through the court process, consult Griffin Law Office.