What is Bail & How Does it Work? 

 August 4, 2019

By  LMW Attorneys

When it comes to criminal law issues, most people have heard of the basics, such as the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, and hearsay. But what’s popularly known about them is usually just general knowledge, or sometimes even incorrect information. Yet if someone you loved is arrested, you suddenly realize how crucial it is to know the answers to some of these most important questions, such as whether they can be released on bail.

So what, exactly is it, and how does it work?

What is Bail?

When a person is arrested, they have to wait until their initial court hearing to hear about the criminal charges they face. Typically, the person must wait until their first hearing is scheduled to address their bail or bail amount. Even after that first hearing, the person may have to continue to wait in jail until trial, which could take months. Bail gives them the opportunity to be released from jail while they wait for their case to move forward.

To set the bail amount, there is a bail hearing. Typically, there are specific amounts that are suggested for specific crimes. Judges could deviate from those guidelines depending on the circumstances (e.g. whether the Defendant has a prior criminal record or the crime was particularly egregious). At the bail hearing, the judge will also establish bail conditions that the Defendant is required to comply with as they await their court hearing. Some examples of these conditions include surrendering their passport, avoiding contact with certain individuals, or having a set curfew.

By paying bail, the Defendant is assuring the Court that they will show up for their Court hearing. Once the Defendant shows up to all of their hearings and trial, the bail payment is returned to the person who paid for it, regardless of whether the Defendant was found guilty or not guilty. On the other hand, if the Defendant fails to show up for Court or violates the bail conditions, they won’t get their bail money back and the Court will issue a warrant for their arrest.

It’s important to note that the 8th Amendment of the United States Constitution establishes that bail amounts cannot be excessive. However, this does not mean that there’s an absolute right to bail. A judge may refuse to grant it if there’s a risk that the Defendant may flee the jurisdiction or cause harm to someone else.

What Does it Mean to Post Bail?

Posting bail means you pay the amount set by the judge. You can do this in one of several ways:

  • Paying the full bail amount
  • Using property as collateral for payment (your car, home, or any other valuable)
  • Bail bond

If a Defendant can’t afford to pay in any of the available ways, they’ll have to wait in jail until their arraignment (court hearing when they are criminally charged) and through trial.

What is a Bail Bond? | What is a Bail Bondsman?

In many instances, a person cannot afford to pay the full bail amount. As an alternative, they can contact a bail agent to post bail for them. This is how it works:

When bailing out a loved one, you pay 10% to 20% of the bail amount to a bail agent. For example, if bail is set at $25,000, you’d pay $2,500 to $5,000 to the agent. The bail agent then posts bond for your loved one.

The money you pay to the bail agent is non-refundable. In addition, you may also have to sign over collateral as an assurance that your loved one will actually show up in court. This is because, if the Defendant fails to show up, the bail agent will have to pay the full bail amount and never get it back. As a result, you’d lose the collateral you signed over when you paid them the 10% bond amount.

Call Laporte, Mulligan & Werner-Watkins, P.A. for a Free Consultation

When facing criminal charges, too much is at stake. Bail amount, evidence that can be introduced at trial, and in a worst-case scenario, the length of a jail or prison sentence. At Laporte, Mulligan & Werner-Watkins, P.A., we have experienced attorneys who can best design a strategy to help you.

Contact us, and let’s discuss your case.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended to be for informational purposes only and does not establish an attorney/client relationship.