What a Bail Bond Is, How It Operates, and the Process of Posting Bail

What Does It Mean to Post Bail?

A criminal defendant’s promise to appear for trial or pay a sum of money ordered by the court in lieu of posting bail is known as a bail bond. A bail bondsman is the person who co-signs the bail bond and charges the defendant a fee in exchange for guaranteeing that the payment will be made.

Surety bonds come in a variety of forms, including bail bonds.

The only places in the world where commercial bail bonds are offered are the United States and the Philippines. In certain countries, criminal defendants who post bail are required to comply with a number of restrictions and conditions before they can be released pending the dates of their trials.

IMPORTANT LEARNINGS

  • A defendant may elect to post bail in the form of a bail bond with a bail bondsman’s co-signature in lieu of paying the full amount of money the court requires.
  • Thanks to the bail bond’s surety, the defendant will appear in court.
  • When determining the amount of bail, judges often have a lot of leeway.
  • In order to compensate for their services, bail bondsmen typically require an upfront payment equal to 10% of the total amount of the bail, in addition to any other costs that may apply. The maximum amount charged has been capped at 8% in several states.
  • The bail system is commonly regarded as being discriminatory toward defendants with low incomes and as a factor that contributes to the disproportionate number of young black men who are incarcerated.

The Process of Obtaining Bail

A bail hearing is often held for a person who has been charged with a crime. This hearing takes place in front of a judge. The judge will decide the amount of bail on his or her own. If the prisoner is accused of committing a serious crime or appears to be likely to flee the jurisdiction, the judge has the discretion to either completely deny bail or set it at an exorbitant figure.

When it comes to determining bond amounts, judges typically have a great deal of leeway, and the regular sums shift from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. If the defendant is accused of committing a non-violent misdemeanor, the court may decide to set bail at $500. It is not unusual for defendants charged with felony crimes to be required to post bail in the amount of $20,000 or more.

The only places in the world where commercial bail bonds are offered are the United States and the Philippines.

After the amount of the bail has been determined, the defendant has the option to either:

  • Continue to serve your time in jail until the charges against you have been addressed in court.
  • Make preparations for a bail bond.
  • You are required to make a complete payment of the bail amount until the case is settled.

In the most extreme cases, the courts in certain countries would take the title to a home or other valuable collateral in place of cash payments.

In the event that the defendants whose appearances they guarantee do not show up for their scheduled court dates, bail bondsmen, who are also known as bail bond agents, give formal agreements to the criminal courts stating that they will pay the total amount of the bail.

In order to compensate for their services, bail bondsmen typically require an upfront payment equal to 10% of the total amount of the bail, in addition to any other costs that may apply. The maximum amount that can be charged has been capped at 8% in several states.

The agent may also demand that the defendant provide a creditworthiness statement or that the defendant give over collateral in the form of property or securities. Both of these options are possible. The majority of valuable goods, including automobiles, jewelry, and residences, as well as stocks and bonds, are accepted as collateral by bail bond companies.

The defendant is freed from custody until the start of the trial once the bail or bail bond has been posted.

Disadvantages Inherent in the System of Bail Bonds

The bail bond system has been brought up as part of the greater discussion over the issue of mass incarceration in the United States, particularly of young Black men.

Even among those who work in the legal industry, many people believe that the bail bond system is biased since it requires defendants with low incomes to remain in jail or to cobble together a 10% cash fee and the balance of the bail in collateral—and this is even before they stand trial for any crime. According to a survey by the Prison Policy Initiative, over 536,000 people are being held in jails across the United States because they are unable to afford bail or the services of a bail bondsman.

Bail bondsmen have been made illegal in the states of Illinois, Kentucky, Oregon, and Wisconsin; these jurisdictions instead require a 10% deposit on the total amount of the bail, which must be deposited with the court. In 2018, voters in California decided to do away with the requirement that defendants post cash bail in the state’s court system.

Example of a Bail Bond

Assume that Melissa, a resident of New York, has been found guilty of breaking the law and that the court has decided to set her bond at $25,000. Melissa does not have the $25,000 in cash that is required to avoid staying in jail while her court case is being evaluated; nonetheless, she would prefer not to do so. As a result of this, Melissa makes the decision to contact a bail bondsman in order to post a bail bond.

The bondsman receives a payment equal to 10% of the bond, or $2,500, in exchange for their services. In order to cover the remaining $22,500, the bondsman will require that Melissa or a member of her family provide collateral in an amount equal to that amount. Because Melissa fulfills the court’s criteria and appears at all of her court appearances, the court grants her the return of the $22,500 she posted as collateral at the conclusion of the case. This amount is $2,500 less than what she would have gotten if she had paid the money personally.

What kinds of things can be put up as security for a bail bond?

Bail bond companies will take a wide variety of collateral, such as real estate, automobiles, credit cards, stocks, bonds, and jewelry, among other things.

What are the consequences if I am unable to post bail?

If you are unable to post bail, you will most likely have to remain in jail until your case has been settled. This is a very unfortunate situation.

Will I get a refund for the money I paid for bail?

That is debatable. In the state of New York, for instance, if you appear in court for all of your scheduled hearings, the bail money will be returned to you after your case. If you are found not guilty or if your case is dropped, you will receive a full refund of the money that you posted as bail. On the other hand, if you are found guilty of the crime, it will be refunded to you minus a 3% fee.

 In addition, you are required to attend each of your court hearings or risk having your bond money returned to the court.