Definition of Bail, Posting Process for Bail, and Role of Bail Bondsman

What Is a Bond for Bail?

An agreement to appear for trial or to pay a certain amount of money stipulated by the court is known as a bail bond. A bail bondsman co-signs the bail bond and charges the defendant a fee in exchange for ensuring the payment of the bond.

Read More: Bail Bonds

The United States and the Philippines are the only countries with a commercial bail bond system. In other nations, bail may consist of a set of limitations and requirements imposed on criminal suspects in exchange for their acquittal and pending trial.

How a Surety Bond Operates

A judge will usually hold a bail hearing for someone who has been charged with a crime. The judge has the authority to set the bail amount. If the prisoner faces serious charges or seems likely to pose a flight risk, the court may completely refuse bail or set it at an absurdly high amount.

Judges can set bail with a great deal of discretion; the average amount varies depending on the jurisdiction. The amount of bail for a person facing a nonviolent misdemeanor might be $500. Bail for felonies is often rather expensive, often amounting to $20,000 or more.

The defendant has the following options when the bail amount is determined:

Stay incarcerated until the allegations are settled during the trial

Set up a bail bond.

Until the case is concluded, pay the entire bail amount.

Finally, some jurisdictions’ courts take title to a house or other valuable collateral in place of money.

The Duties of a Bail Bondsman

Bail bondmen, sometimes known as bail bond agents, provide criminal courts written commitments to pay the whole bail amount in the event that the defendants whose presence they have guaranteed do not show up for their scheduled trials.

In exchange for their services, bail bond agents often demand 10% of the total bail money up front, with the possibility of further charges. There is an 8% restriction on the amount charged in certain states.

A creditworthiness declaration or the defendant’s surrender of assets or other property as collateral may also be demanded by the agent. In general, bail bond agents take the majority of valuable property, such as stocks and bonds in addition to vehicles, jewels, and homes.

Upon receipt of the bail or bail bond, the accused is freed pending trial.

Impairments with the Bail Bond System

The argument about mass imprisonment in the United States, particularly of young Black males, has included the bail bond system.

Many people, including some in the legal profession, believe that the bail bond system is unfair since it forces low-income defendants to remain in jail or find 10% of the bail amount in cash and the remaining amount in collateral before they are even given the opportunity to face criminal charges. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, 536,000 or so Americans are being detained in jails due to inability to pay for bail or the services of a bail bondsman.

In Illinois, Kentucky, Oregon, and Wisconsin, bail bondsmen are prohibited, and in their place, the court must receive a 10% deposit on the bail sum. California voters approved the removal of cash bail requirements from the state’s legal system in 2018.

Model of a Bail Bond

Assume Melissa, a resident of New York, has breached the law and that her bail has been set at $25,000. Melissa doesn’t have the $25,000 in cash, even though she doesn’t want to remain in jail while her case is being adjudicated. Melissa chooses to post a bail bond by contacting a bail bondsman as a result.

The bondsman is compensated with $2,500, or 10% of the bond, for their services. The bondsman gets an equal amount of security from Melissa or a family member in exchange for the remaining $22,500. Melissa pays the $22,500 in collateral back at the conclusion of the trial—$2,500 less than she would have if she had paid the bond herself—because she follows with the court’s rules and shows up for her scheduled court appearances.

What Kind of Items Are Acceptable as Bail Bond Collateral?

A variety of collateral is accepted by bail bond agents, such as jewelry, automobiles, real estate, credit cards, stocks, and bonds.

If I am unable to post bail, what happens?

Regretfully, you will probably stay in jail until your case is over if you are unable to post bail.

Will My Bail Money Be Refunded?

That varies. For instance, in New York, if you appear in court each time, the money posted as bail will be reimbursed to you at the conclusion of your case. You will get a full refund of the bail money in the event that you are found not guilty or that your case is dropped. If you are found guilty, though, it will be restored less a 3% charge. You risk losing your bail if you fail to appear in court on a regular basis.

The Final Word

By signing a bail bond, a criminal defendant promises to appear in court or to pay a certain amount of money. A bail bondsman co-signs the bail bond, which is a kind of surety bond. In exchange for ensuring the payment, the bail bondsman charges the defendant a fee.

The United States and the Philippines are the only two nations in the world with a commercial bail bond system. Many people believe that the system, which is illegal in four states in the United States, discriminates against low-income defendants and contributes to the disproportionate imprisonment of young Black males.