Following the arrest and booking procedure, a criminal suspect will either be released or detained. If the criminal charge is serious enough, the suspect will be detained until such time that a bail hearing can be held. Every person charged with a crime has a right to reasonable bail, but not every person will be qualified for release on bail, and not every crime justifies release pending trial. If you are facing a bail hearing, you should contact an attorney immediately.
Bail is a fancy reference for money. A bail bond is a promise to pay money – a legal instrument that commits you to pay money or property if you don’t report to court on time. The bail process is essentially a financial arrangement that a bail bonding agency makes on behalf of the criminal suspect that has three aspects to it:
- The Court first sets the amount of bail based on the seriousness of the crime, the background of the suspect and whether the court thinks the suspect is a likely flight risk and other factors;
- The suspect (or his family) then makes arrangements, often through a lawyer, with a bail bonding agency to post a certain amount of money or collateral with a bail bonding agency to raise the bail amount set by the court and to get them to issue the bail bond.
- The agency then posts the bail bond with the court in order to secure the release of the suspect from custody pending trial.
The bail bonding agency will charge a non-refundable premium for its services. This is the fee for the bail agent’s services to manage the suspect and make sure he or she shows up at all required court appearances.
A suspect does not need to use a bail bond agency. He can pay the full amount of the bail in cash directly to the court – that is, he (or a loved one) can literally post the bail in person by handing it to the court in cash. This is risky, however. If the suspect misses a court appearance, the bail may be forfeited. If he gets re-arrested while out on bail, the court may also order the bail forfeited. The same goes for property: If a suspect fails to appear for court or gets re-arrested while out on bail, any property that had been offered as collateral for a bail bond may be seized by court and forfeited.
In fact, if a suspect does not arrive in court for his trial, a bail bondsman can hire a bounty hunter to track him down and can also sue him for any money advanced to the court for the bail bond. The agency may also recover any unpaid money by claiming assets that were owned by the defendant or by those individuals who signed a contract to financially assist the defendant.
Do Not Deal With Bail on Your Own
It is important to “get bailed out” promptly in order to meet personally with an attorney in order to assist in your own defense. Staying in jail will not assist you in winning your case. If bail has not been set yet, you should act promptly to consult with an attorney. If bail has been set, you may be entitled to lower the amount of bail through a Motion for Bail Reduction.
Once the amount of bail is established, you should obtain timely and proper advice to navigate the procedures for securing a bail bond and posting it with the court system.
If you or someone you know needs assistance in the bail process or in any aspect of a criminal charge, please contact the Law Offices of Mark S. Guralnick at 1-866-337-2900 for a free case evaluation.