Understanding Bail Bonds

Understanding Bail Bonds

When arrested for a crime, one of the options available is to post bail. This favorable option keeps people from spending more time in custody as they await their trial. This is a financial agreement in which an amount set by a court is deposited with the court’s clerk, often by a third party on behalf of the person arrested. This can be in the form of cash, an asset of equivalent value, or a bail bond. Bail bondsmen often provide the money or surety that allows the arrested person to get out of jail; taking the responsibility of ensuring that he/she appears in court. Only after the bail has been posted can the court approve the release and issue written permission allowing the accessed to go home.

Factors Determining Bail Amount

The value of the bail varies depending on the discretion of the judge, but based on several factors. It is usually set after a bail hearing. One of the factors considered is the nature and circumstances surrounding the case; looking at the extent of violence and malice involved as well as the weight of evidence presented by the prosecution. If after examining these the judge finds that the accused person’s release will endanger the community, s/he can reject the bail application. Judges also tend to look at other factors such as whether the accused is a flight risk. Should s/he be convinced that the accused is likely to flee if set free, the application can also be rejected. A common occurrence is to set the bail amount high in order to encourage the accused to appear when the court hearing is scheduled. Past criminal history also plays a part in the determination the bail amount and the decision to deny bail.

In some circumstances, the accused person can be temporarily released from jail without a monetary value being set. In such cases, the release is conditional. The common conditions include drug and alcohol testing and rehabilitation, checking in with an assigned probation officer, or surrendering firearms. The court also specifies whether the accused is free to leave the state or not. Often, the bonding office must be notified if the accused intends to leave the state. However, if the court expressly forbade travel, the accused must seek its approval if it is imperative that s/he travels.

How Bail Bondsmen Operate

The services of bail bond agencies are often sought when the arrested person doesn’t have the money or assets of equivalent value to deposit with the court as surety that s/he will appear in court. A bail bond agency will require a certain percentage of non-refundable fees, often going up to 20% of the bail amount. Once this is agreed upon and paid, the agency pays up the remaining bail amount should the accused skip court.

The agency often takes some form of security from the accused or other person’s willing to put up their assets to secure the release. If s/he fails to honor the obligation to attend court hearings, the security provided by both parties of the parties will be claimed by the agency. The agency can also set a bounty hunter to find the accused, and when found, s/he risks being put in jail until the case is concluded.

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