The justice system in the U.S. is designed to protect the public from dangerous criminals. One of the ways that it does this is by implementing bail before certain defendants can be released from police custody.
However, many defendants cannot afford to pay the full bail amount. They then face the prospect of posting a bail bond in order to secure their freedom and await their next court date at home.
What is Bail?
Bail is the amount of money that a defendant must pay to the court before he or she can be released from jail. Payment of this money comes with the understanding that the offender will appear for all of his or her future court dates. The amount of money that a defendant must pay is determined by a judge at the person’s arraignment hearing.
After a person is arrested and booked into jail, he or she will be arraigned typically within 48 to 72 business hours. During that hearing, the judge will set the bail amount that the person must be to get out of jail before his or her next court date.
The Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits judges from ordering excessive amounts of bail. However, the term “excessive” is subjective to each jurisdiction.
With that, many judges use an established bail schedule that determines bail based on the type of crime for which a defendant has been charged. A judge can increase or lower the bail amount based on specifics of the case like the person’s prior criminal history or risk to the community.
Most bail amounts are set in the hundreds or thousands of dollars. This amount compels the defendant to follow through with the requirements of the case and see the legal process through to the end.
If a person cannot pay the required bail, he or she could post a bond, which is a percentage of the required bail. The offender can use the services of a bail bond agent to put up the money if he or she does not have the cash in his or her bank account.
How Do You Post Bail?
If you know how does bail work and your case fits certain legal criteria, you can post your own bail in one of several ways. The first and perhaps easiest method for posting your own bail involves writing a check or handing over the cash to the court. When it comes to knowing how does bail work, you can also use a credit or debit card to pay your bail.
If you do not have the cash but own something that has a value that equals the bail amount, you can sign over possession of it to the court. Liquid assets that can be used to post your own bail include:
- Insurance policies
- Stocks, bonds or investments
If you do not show up for your court dates, you forfeit ownership to the asset, which will be sold to satisfy the terms of your bail. If you do show up to court and fulfill your case’s terms, your assets will be returned to you.
Your next option for answering how does posting bail work would be to ask the court to release you on your own recognizance. Called ROR, it allows you to sign a paper saying that you will appear in court at your next hearing or trial date.
The final answer to how does posting bail work involves paying a bond to secure your release from jail. A bond is 10 percent of your bail amount.
If you do not have the required 10 percent, you can use the services of a bail bond agent, who can post the bail bond for you and secure your release from police custody. A bail bond agent will also charge you an administrative fee of 10 to 15 percent of your bail amount.
What is a Bail Bond?
A bail bond is a form of bail payment that a bail bonds agent provides on behalf of a defendant. A bail bond agent is a bondsman who specializes in posting money to secure the release of clients from jail. Bail bonds agencies charge a fee for their services and generally are available around-the-clock to bail or bond people from custody.
In their professional capacity, they function as a surety between the court and the client that the defendant will show up to all of his or her court dates. If the person fails to appear in court, the agent promises to pay the court the full amount of bail.
To secure both the bond and the full amount of the bail, a bail bonds agency typically will require that a defendant put up some sort of collateral. The most common forms of collateral that people use to obtain bail bonds include:
- Wages or salaries
- Real estate
- Boats, motorcycles or other recreational vehicles
If the client fulfills his or her bond contract, he or she will get the collateral returned upon the closing of his or her case. However, the defendant will be charged an administrative fee of 10 to 15 percent of the set bail amount.
How Does a Bail Bond Work?
Many defendants want to understand how does bail bond work before they appear at their arraignment hearings. The process for how bail bonds work begins at the actual arraignment when the defendant learns how much bail he or she must pay in order to get out of jail.
Once the person learns this amount, the next part of answering how does bail bond work involves contacting a bail bonds agency if he or she cannot pay the bail or bond. A big part of how bail bonds work involves getting the money from a professional bail bondsman. The bail bonds agency ensures that the offender shows up to court and avoids leaving town before the case is settled.
Defendants who fulfill the terms of their bail bonds contracts only have to forfeit the 10 percent of their bail as profit to the agency. If they put up collateral, they have this property returned to them.
However, if they fail to show up to court or fail to comply with the court’s sentencing, defendants owe the full amount of their bail. They also risk losing the assets that they put up with which to secure their bonds.
A bail bond can be the most viable means that an offender has to get out of jail after being arrested. Most people do not have thousands of dollars to spend paying their own bail.
They also do not want to spend time in jail before their next court dates. To secure their releases, they use a bail bonds agent to pay the full amount of their bail or bond to the court.