Bail and Bail Bonds: A Simple Explanation
The legal system can often feel like a labyrinth to people who aren’t intimately familiar with it. With so many laws and regulations in place, keeping of track of things can be more than a little difficult. If you have never had to call a bail bond company before or you were left confused about the process the last time you dealt with a bail bondsman, we want to offer a simple definition of what bail is and what a bail bond is. After you are more familiar with bail, give us a call. We will be happy to get the gears in motion.
Bail is an amount of money set by the court that can be paid in order to let someone who has been accused, but not convicted, of a crime out of jail. Bail is a right laid out in the US constitution and clarified by the 8th amendment. Essentially, it allows a defendant to resume their normal life while they wait for trial thanks to the presumption of innocence that is the basis for criminal law in the USA.
Bail amounts are determined by several factors, including the criminal record of the defendant, the defendant’s employment status, and the severity of the crime. Judges have some leeway in the amounts that they are allowed to set for bail but they commonly stay within certain accepted levels based on the crime. In some cases, judges may let people out of jail without having to pay bail, or they may deny releasing a defendant if the judge views them as a likely flight risk. They may also deny bail when the crime is severe.
A bail bond is a type of surety bond that is issued by a bail bondsman or a bail bond company that will get the accused out of jail. A surety bond is an agreement between three parties that spells out the obligations of two parties to the third. In the case of a bail bond, the bail bondsman and the defendant exchange money for the defendant’s freedom on the condition that the defendant abide by the conditions set by the court. The bondsman pays the bail on behalf of the defendant on the condition that the defendant will not break the conditions set by the court. If the defendant fails to show up for their court date or violates the agreement with the court in other ways, the bail is revoked (meaning the bondsman loses the full bail amount) and the defendant is arrested again and kept in jail until their court date.
One of the ways that the bail bond company tries to ensure that the defendant will show up to their court date is to require collateral before they issue a bond. If you cosign on a bail bond for someone and you had to put up collateral to secure the bond, it is in your best interest, as well as in the best interests of the defendant, to make sure they follow the instructions of the court, or you may lose your collateral. For felony cases with large bail amounts, that could mean losing your vehicle, home, or a large amount of money.
A premium is the money paid to the bail bondsman in order for them to put up the full bail amount. The premium is almost always non-refundable and is usually a small percentage of the overall bail amount (generally around 10 percent.) For example, if your family member or friend was being held on $10,000 bail, you might have to pay a premium of $1,000. While $1,000 is still a lot of money, it is much easier to get that kind of money together than the full $10,000. At ASAP Bail Bonds in Walton County, we might be able to help you with a payment plan that will make paying your premium easier by breaking the cost into several payments.
If you have more questions about how bail works or what some of the terms we use mean, please feel free to ask when you call us for your free, no-obligation consultation. We are always happy to work with members of the community to help them and the people they care about get out of jail.