How Does Bail Work?

If you have recently had a friend or family member arrested, you are probably wondering:

How does bail work? Will your loved one be offered bail? And what happens to the bail money put forth for their release?

Bail is the process by which a court releases someone who has been charged with a crime, in exchange for a bail payment that they hold as collateral to ensure that the individual returns for their court date. Once the case has been settled, if the individual has completed all their requirements as dictated by the court, the court will return the bail money.

Once a person is arrested and booked, they will go before a judge to hear their charges and a bail hearing. The judge takes into consideration various aspects like the nature of the crime, criminal history, work history, and ties to the area, to determine if the person is a risk of fleeing in an attempt to avoid conviction. If the judge deems that the person is not a flight risk, he will set a bail amount.

Usually, the bail amount is pretty high, to really serve as a deterrent for anyone considering skipping their court date. If a person released on bail does not show for a court appointment, the court keeps the bail money and puts a warrant out for their arrest.

Determining on the crime, the judge might set a bail amount in the thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars. Obviously, most people don’t have that kind of money in their savings, so they turn to a bail bondsman who agrees to post the bail in exchange for a nonrefundable fee. The bail bondsman’s fee is typically 10% of the bail amount, and even if the defendant is acquitted of all charges, the bondsman will keep the fee.

The 10% paid to the bail bondsman is what seals the agreement known as a bail bond.  Now, the bail bondsman assumes responsibility of the defendant who they bail out. If the person skips bail, it is the bondsman’s money that is lost, so many bondsman usually require a friend or family member to sign over collateral to back his investment.

Once again, once the individual has complied with all their court requirements, the court returns the bail money to the bondsman and the deal is complete.

As you can see, the bail system is a relatively sensible and effective way to release harmless people so they can continue their lives as they settle their legal troubles.

Further Reading
  • How To Bail Someone Out Of Jail

Posted by Javi Calderon, on April 10, 2012 at 4:11 PM