All About Bail and Bonds

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When you're arrested by police officers and taken into custody on criminal charges, you have immediate options. Although placed in jail, you can get out by posting bail or getting a bond to be released. The judge decides on the amount of bail and bases that amount on the crime, its severity, and whether you have any prior criminal history or has a risk of leaving the jurisdiction before your trial.

Additionally, a judge can even decide not to set any bail and instead deny the option.

What is the Difference Between Bail and Bond?

To the average person, bail and bond may mean the same thing. Although similar, they are different. Bail is the amount of money you're required to pay to get out of jail. Bond, on the other hand, is money posted by a bail bonds company that goes towards your release.

Although many often view bail as a sort of punishment, it is not so at all. Instead, the point of bail is to secure an agreement made by a defendant to comply with specific conditions set by the court and to return on the date of their trial. In other words, it serves as a type of collateral to ensure you return for the remainder of the case. If you don't hold up to any part of the agreement, paid bail can get revoked. The same goes for bond as the bail bonds company can forfeit the money as well.

What Happens at a Bail Hearing?

First and foremost, if you have difficulty securing money for bail, you should hire a bail bond agent to help. It's important to know what happens at a bail hearing and to know what to expect.

Once you get arrested for a crime, the judge sets a bail amount and institutes conditions you must meet to ensure your release from jail. If there is a history of criminal activity or the belief that you are a flight risk, the monetary amount may be set higher — or it may not get granted at all. However, if you have no prior criminal history and you have ties to the community, you have a better chance of getting bail granted.

Specific rulings often come into play during a bail hearing. They include the following:

Release on own recognizance: You get released in exchange for agreeing to certain conditions, including returning to the court.
Personal bond: You sign up for a bond that has conditions stating you're responsible for criminal or civil penalties if you fail to return to court.
Bail set with terms of release: You are allowed to go free after posting bail in the full amount or after paying it through a bail bonds company.
Denial of bail: If you are considered a flight risk or a risk to the public's safety, you can be denied bail.

Bail Bonds Companies

Unfortunately, the monetary amount courts usually set for bail is far higher than most people can afford. Bail bonds companies are nonprofits that charge a fee that ranges from 10 to 20 percent of the total bail amount. They extend bail for defendants of criminal cases to help them get out of jail.

The company signs a surety bond, a contract that holds it liable for paying the full amount if the individual doesn't appear in court or breaks part of their agreement with the court. As a result, the company often checks in on the person, who may even consent for the company to monitor them. If the defendant fails to show up in court when required, the company may employ a bounty hunter.

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