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Bail / Bond

The Difference Between Bail And Bond:

A criminal bond is a financial guarantee that a person charged with a crime will appear for all court appearances until the case concludes or is dismissed. Once the bail amount is paid, you must show up for court. If you do not show up for court, the court will keep the bail and issue a warrant for your arrest.

Attorneys tend to use these terms interchangeably, but technically, “bail” is the money given as a security deposit to assure that you will appear for all court proceedings. On the other hand, a "bond" is when a bondsman, or bonding company makes a pledge on a person's behalf to pay the bail if they do not attend court. Depending on the bonding company, you will have to pay between 10-15% of the bail amount.

The purpose of bail is to allow someone accused of a crime to stay out of jail while awaiting trial. It is not supposed to be punitive in nature or serve as a separate punishment. Many reasons exist for bond/bail. The first bail/bond allows a defendant to prepare meaningfully for their defense. Second, it reduces overcrowding in jail facilities and confinement costs. Since the community is always a concern in determining bond, people accused of dangerous crimes have to be granted a bond by the Superior Court.

Being held without bond requires a hearing before the Superior Court which considers multiple factors in determining bond. This does not happen quickly and some people make decision to enter a plea to be released from custody. When a person makes the decision to waive both legal and factual defenses in order to seek early release, it can have long-term consequences. This is why seeking legal counsel if denied bond is critical.

If a person is on probation, they are subject to having their probation revoked in the event there is a violation of their terms of probation. Probation bonds may be obtained through a motion to the sentencing court. It is far better to post a bond and then form an independent judgment of the best course of action in a a probation case, not a judgment based on a desire get out of jail.

How The Amount Of Bail Is Determined:

Judges have the sole authority to set bond amounts. However, most jurisdictions have something called a "bail schedule," which specifies bail amounts for common crimes which is developed with the presiding Judge. Bail schedules save both the accused and the court staff time and resources since the amount of bond has already been approved for certain offenses. As a result, you do not have to wait to appear before a judge.

A judge considers several factors when fixing a bail amount. Flight (or leaving the jurisdiction) is a primary factor. This “risk” is assessed by the Judge considering the person’s ties to the community. This includes a review of the person’s family in the area, how long the person has resided in the jurisdiction, and job status. The Court then considers the person’s criminal history and if he has a history of appearing for Court.

Other Factors That Affect Bail Include, But Are Not Limited To, The Following:

  • The defendant's ability to pay;
  • The seriousness of the offense;
  • The defendant's character and reputation;
  • The defendant's ties to the community;
  • Public Safety;
  • Whether the accused is likely to re-offend;
  • Whether the accused is likely to return to court and answer to the charges (such as when a person has not appeared in court on previous charges);
  • Whether the charge is in fact eligible for bond (some crimes do not allow bail as a matter of right).

Types of Bail Bonds:

In general, there are four types of bail bonds available that may be used to secure your release from jail: (1) own recognizance; (2) cash bond; (3) property bond; and (4) a professional bondsman/bonding company.

Own Recognizance:

This method allows you to sign a form instead of making a payment. In this situation, the judge has taken your word that you will show up for all court appearances. This is usually available for minor misdemeanor offenses and misdemeanor traffic offenses.

Cash Bond:

Another option is a cash bond. This option is always available. If you choose this option, you must pay the entire bail amount. The benefit is that as long as you do not miss a court date, you get your money back at the end of the case, regardless of the outcome. In many jurisdictions there is now an option to post a cash bond via the Internet.

Property Bond:

Alternatively, you (or someone on your behalf) may post a property bond. To do so, most jurisdictions require a warranty deed, a current tax statement showing the taxes are paid and the value of the property, a current mortgage statement (payments must be current). The people appearing on the deed will need to appear at jail.

Professional Bondsman:

For those who do not wish or cannot afford to put up bail money, a bail bondsman is usually the right choice. A bondsmen is in the business of posting bonds for criminal charges. The bonding company will charge a fee, usually between 12% and 15% of the bond amount. Unlike a cash bond, this fee is nonrefundable. What is paid to a professional bonding company is their fee in exchange for the risk of a person not appearing in court. Some bonding companies also ask for a deposit to limit their risk. Usually a deposit is required for out of state people or non-citizens.

Bail and Bond Conditions:

Bailed-out suspects commonly must comply with "conditions of release." If a defendant violates a condition of the bond, a judge may revoke bail and order the suspect re-arrested and returned to jail. Some bail conditions, such as a requirement that a suspect "obey all laws," are common. Other conditions may reflect the crime for which a suspect was arrested. For example, a condition may order a domestic violence suspect not to contact the complaining witness.

If bail conditions are violated, the bond can be revoked. That means a person can be held in jail until the case is over. Additionally, in cases of domestic violence, if a person violates a "no contact" provision in a bond, that person will also be charged with aggravated Stalking.

What If a Person Does Not Have a Bond?

Sometimes a defendant is denied bond. One of many things can cause this. For example, bail is unavailable for those currently on probation. Those incarcerated for a probation violation must remain in custody until they appear before judge to resolve to resolve the violation.

By law, a defendant who has been denied bond is entitled to have his or her case presented to the grand jury within 90 days from the arrest date. Furthermore, if you cannot make bond, you will be granted a hearing after 90 days to readdress the bond amount. At this hearing, the judge has discretion to change or even waive the amount.

Superior Court Only Bonds:

Only a Superior Court judge may set bond for certain serious crimes. The list of offenses for which only a Superior Court Judge can issue a bond include: treason, murder, rape, aggravated sodomy, armed robbery, hijacking, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sexual battery, aggravated stalking, certain drug related offenses, and enumerated offenses (kidnapping, arson, aggravated assault or burglary) if on probation or parole for any of the previously listed offenses.

In these cases, a motion for bond must be filed in Superior Court. The process of getting a bond hearing will take several weeks or more in cases that have Superior Court only bonds.

Matters Unique to Misdemeanor and Traffic Charges:

Anyone charged with a misdemeanor offense is entitled to a bond.

Sometimes, a licensed driver charged with a misdemeanor may surrender his or her license in lieu of bail, up to $1,000, after he or she has been incarcerated for at least five days.

If you are enlisted in the military, in certain circumstances, your commanding officer may be able to sign for your release.

Act Now If Your Family Member is incarcerated:

If your loved-one is in jail, call us once you have arranged for their release. If you have questions about the bonding process, call us. We are always happy to provide advice. However, we cannot recommend a particular bonding company.

Also, in a DUI case a person only has 30 days to appeal the suspension of their driver's license. Once a person is released many people do not want to think about their legal problems. Do not miss this deadline. If missed, your license will be suspended up to a year.