- Security, usually a sum of money, exchanged for the release of an arrested person as a guarantee of that person's appearance for trial. As a verb, bail in this instance means to secure the release of an arrested person by providing bail.
- Release from imprisonment on payment of such money. As a verb, bail in this instance means to release a person under such guarantee.
- The person providing such payment.
The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that bail not be excessive. This means that bail should not be used to raise money for the government or to punish a person for being suspected of committing a crime. The purpose of bail is to give an arrested person his/her freedom until he/she is convicted of a crime, and the amount of bail must be no more than is reasonably necessary to keep her from fleeing before a case is over. Bail is set to assure the attendance of the defendant, when his or her appearance is required in court, whether before or after conviction.
There are two ways to pay your bail. You may either pay the full amount of the bail or buy a bail bond. A bail bond is like a check held in reserve: It represents your promise that you will appear in court when you are supposed to. You pay a bond seller (ie. bail bondsman, Josh Herman) to post a bond (a certain sum of money) with the court, and the court keeps the bond in case you don’t show up.
What information should I have before I contact the bail agent? back to top
- Where is the person in custody? Make sure that you ask the person in custody where they are located (city, state and name of jail).
- What is the full name and booking number of the person in jail? The bail agent will need this information in order to contact the jail. The bail agent can get the booking number for you if you don't have that information.
- How much is the bail? The bail agent will get this information when they contact the jail if you do not have it. With the bail amount the agent can tell you the amount it will cost to post a bond and get the person out of jail.
What are the forms of bail? back to top
The form of bail varies from jurisdiction, but the common forms of bail include:
- Citation Release
- Property bond
- Orders of Protection
What are my rights to bail? back to top
Under current law, a defendant has the right to bail unless there is sufficient reason not to grant it. The main reasons for refusing bail according to the Bail Act 1976 are that there are substantial grounds for believing that the defendant (1) will flee; (2) will commit further offences while on bail; or (3) will interfere with witnesses. Conditions may be applied to the grant of bail, such as living at a particular address or, rarely, paying an amount into court or having someone act as surety. Release on bail is sometimes referred to as "police bail," where the release was by the police rather than by a court. The alternative to being granted bail is being remanded into custody (also called being "held on remand").
Do bail laws vary from state to state? back to top
Bail laws vary somewhat from state to state, as is typical of U.S. jurisprudence. Generally, a person charged with a non-capital crime is presumptively entitled to be granted bail. Recently, some states have enacted statutes modeled on federal law which permit pretrial detention of persons charged with serious violent offenses, if it can be demonstrated that the defendant is a flight risk or a danger to the community.
What is a Bail Bond? back to top
A bail bond is a type of surety bond used to secure the release from custody of a person charged with a criminal offense. Under such a contract, the principal is the accused, the obligee is the government, and the surety is the bail bondsman.
Most people are familiar with bail bonds. Someone arrested on a criminal charge may be held until trial, unless they furnish the required bail. The posting of a bail bond acquired by or on behalf of the incarcerated person is one means of meeting the required bail. When a bond is issued, the bonding company guarantees that the defendant will appear in court at a given time and place. The Government entity (state or federal) in whose court the defendant must appear, is protected by the bond. If the defendant fails to appear, the bond amount becomes payable and is forfeited as a penalty by the surety insurer issuing the bond. Bail bonds usually require collateral (cash, a deed, or other property) to protect the surety.
Bail bonds are issued by licensed "Bail Agents" (ie. bail bondsman, Josh Herman) who specialize in their underwriting and issuance. Bail agents act as the appointed representatives of licensed surety insurance companies.
How do I get a bond? back to top
There are four ways in which a person may be released from custody:
- You can use bondsmen. This means that you will pay a fee and need to use some form of collateral;
- You can post cash for the full amount of the bond with the court or jail;
- You can use real property (such as a home) with the court;
- Lastly, the judge can decide to let the defendant go on there own recognizance.
How long is the bail process? back to top
The paperwork takes approximately 20-45 minutes, depending on the complexity of the transaction. The release time can be one hour or less for local police stations and 6-12 hours in a county jail. Please remember that these times are not guaranteed but general time frames.
What is Collateral? back to top
Collateral is some property placed within the bondsman's legal control, which may be sold in the event the defendant does not show for the next court proceeding. The bondsman can then sell the property to cover the amount paid to post the bail. Essentially, collateral is a way of insuring the defendant will go back to court and complete his/her obligation to the court.
Each bonding office will have there own standards but, for the most part bondsmen will accept the following as collateral: real estate, cars, credit cards, stocks, bonds, jewelry, personal credit, bank accounts and art work.
What is a bail bond co-signer and how is he/she involved in the process? back to top
The act of co-signing involves a promise to pay another person's debt arising out of contract if that person fails to do so. Many realtors and landlords require a cosigner for college students, people with bad credit or people whose income is less than a certain, low multiple of the amount of rent. Other loans typically involving a cosigner are motor vehicle purchase money loans and mortgages. The statute of frauds existing in most states of the United States requires that any such agreement be in writing and signed by the co-signer in order to be enforceable in a court of law. A co-signer is also known as a surety. The legal act or instrument of cosigning is also called a guaranty.
The co-signer is no longer liable for the defendant's bond when he/she completes all of their court appearances and all premiums have been paid. It is best to contact the agent when the bond is exonerated by the court. This allows the fast return of any collateral pledged and also confirms that the bond is exonerated. In the event of forfeiture, the indemnitor is liable until the full amount of the bail has been paid, plus any expenses incurred or until the court exonerates the bond, which then becomes void.