Could you pay a $400 bail if the cops were to arrest you suddenly? It turns out, 47% of Americans can’t without borrowing money- that’s pretty shocking! No wonder the bail bonds industry exists!

We hear about bail all the time from news stories and movies, but how many of us really understand how it works? In this article, we’ll take a look at bail and bail bonds so that you can learn about how the system works. Read on to learn more!

What is Bail?

If you find yourself in jail, you may need to post bail in order for them to release you. Bail is an amount of money you pay the court to assure that you will appear for future court dates. It is monetary collateral. 

In some cases, at your arraignment, a written promise of appearing in court may be enough. This is called an “own recognizance” release. In other cases, you will have to post bail as insurance to the court that you will appear.

If you appear in court on your scheduled date, the court will refund your bail amount. If you don’t, then they will issue a warrant for your arrest and the bail amount that you paid will be forfeit.

How is the Amount of Bail Determined?

In order to determine the amount of bail needed for your release, the court holds a bail hearing. The elements that the court considers to determine your bail amount can include:

  • Family ties
  • Financial resources
  • Physical and mental condition
  • Criminal history
  • Drug/alcohol history
  • Previous record of missing court appearances
  • How long you have lived in the community

In the modern courts, these bail amounts may be set using a computer algorithm. They enter information about the defendant into a computer program and it uses this information and a formula to set bail, which the judge can modify if they so choose. Other judges may just use a traditional benchmark and adjust according to the case.

In addition to setting your bail amount, the court may put restrictions in place. Some examples of restrictions they may enact include: 

  • Limiting travel
  • Drug/alcohol testing
  • Curfew
  • Revoking Gun Ownership
  • Psychological treatment

It is also possible for judges to completely deny bail. Say an injury attorney was able to get a conviction against you previously for driving under the influence and causing their client harm. If you get arrested for another DUI, the judge may decide not to grant you bail.

Another case where this might happen is if the defendant is wanted in another jurisdiction. In that case, the judge may be likely to hold the individual until the other jurisdiction can bring its charges against the defendant.

What are Bail Bonds?

You’ve no doubt seen signs or television commercials for bail bonds. When a defendant is unable to pay their assigned bail amount, they may contract the services of a bail bondsman. The bail bondsman makes their money by charging a non-refundable fee.

In addition to his fee, the bail bondsman will take collateral, so in the event that you don’t appear in court, he pays the remainder of your bail, but you forfeit your collateral.

Takeaway: Don’t Skip Bail

If you ever find yourself needing bail for the cops to release you from jail, make sure you appear in court. As you can see, the consequences of failing to appear can be very bad news.

We hope you enjoyed this article on bail and found it informative. To read more about legal advice, check out these articles!


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