Most people usually hear of bail from the news or have seen it from movies when a bad guy gets arrested. Simply put, it is a means to obtain freedom after getting arrested or imprisoned.
Not many know how bail or bail bonding works, not unless they’ve personally experienced posting it or assisted someone who posted it.
A bail is not a fine or punishment. It is a certain amount of money posted by a person accused of a crime to obtain temporary liberty. The accused could pay for it on his own if he has the money, or if he cannot produce the required amount, he can go to bail bond companies to guarantee his/her liberty.
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When a suspected person is arrested and taken into custody, either with a warrant or without, he may need to post bail. When he is taken to court, a judge studies the evidence gathered and decides on the amount of bail. Particularly, bail is based on the following:
- the possibility of the accused fleeing;
- the crime he/she is accused of;
- how dangerous the accused is; and
- the dangers he poses to society.
In some cases, the amount of bail has already been determined. In cases where a judge needs to hear the case to set the amount of bail, he/she has the final say based on the circumstances mentioned above. Most people are granted bail, and only a small percentage of people are denied it. It gets denied if the accused is involved in a capital crime, the evidence of guilt is strong, and the public safety is at risk if he/she is released.
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Why the need for bail?
There are several reasons why bail is granted. One of the reasons is overcrowding in jails. County jails could only hold so many people plus a huge amount of taxpayers’ money will need to be spent for the inmates’ food, security and jail maintenance. It is estimated that the daily average for jail expenses is $130.
Another reason is for humanitarian consideration. People may lose their jobs and pushed into poverty if they are not granted temporary freedom.
Incarceration and the loss of a job could also mean financial problems for the family of the accused because he/she will not be able to support them.
Bail Bond Agencies
The United States is said to be one of the countries that require a huge amount of bail, and most people cannot afford it so they turn to bail bond companies for help.
A qualified bail bond agency should undergo licensing procedures and examination. They would need to file an application with the state licensing department and can only operate once it’s approved. They would also need to get surety from large insurance companies to operate.
When a bail bond agency pays bail, it guarantees that the defendant will not flee and will appear in court during pre-trial hearings and during the trial. It is a way to compel the accused to be present in court. Bail bond companies are known to be good at ensuring people to appear during hearings.
A recent study has shown that the average amount of bail paid per year is at $55,400. Murder is listed as the crime with the highest average at $1,000,000.
Now, not everyone who turns to bail bond companies gets approved. Bail bond companies have the discretion to choose who they bail out.
Once a bail bond company admits a client, the accused is required to pay at least 10% of the bail amount to the bail bond company. This amount is non-refundable even if the accused is found not guilty. He/She is also required to come up with collateral as surety for the remaining amount of the bail. If no collateral is available, he/she needs to present people who would guarantee his ability to pay the same.
Collaterals that may be used are real estate property, bank accounts, a car, or anything of value that can assure a bail bond agency that it will be able to collect payment while the case is on-going.
The bail bond company, in return, makes an arrangement with the court guaranteeing the payment of the remaining amount of bail if the accused fails to appear in court or flees.
If the accused flees during the trial, the bail bond agency has the option to hire a bounty hunter to hunt him/her. Most of the time, bounty hunters have a high success rate of finding the accused.
Bail Bond Agency Requirements
Once a bail bond company accepts a client, you will need to provide them the following information so they can further assist you or the accused:
- The county or precinct where the accused is being held in custody, specifically the name of the jail, and the city and state it is located.
- The full name of the person in jail. If you have his booking number, you would also need to provide this, otherwise, the bail bond agent can get this information for you.
- The amount of bail.
If, however, the accused misses even one hearing, or gets arrested again before the hearing, the bail is forfeited in favor of the state. But this is not absolute. The state may impose a time frame for the accused to appear in court, in which case, the bail or a portion of it may be returned.
There are also instances when a court may not require bail and release a person on their recognizance but should promise to appear on every trial. The judge may do this if the individual is well-known in the community as having a good reputation, has a good source of income, and other indications that the person is not a flight risk.