WHAT IS BAIL?
Bail is guaranteed by the 8th Amendment of the United States Constitution and insures the Court that a criminal defendant will appear for trial.
WHAT DOES A BAIL AGENT DO?
A bail agent is paid a premium or fee to insure that a criminal defendant, released into the custody of the bail agent, fulfills the obligation to appear for subsequent hearings and for trial, as ordered by the court. A bail agent never releases a defendant from jail – rather they are paid to insure the appearance of the defendant. If the bail agent fails to have the defendant in court at the proper time and place and cannot seize him and deliver him, they must pay the civil penalty in the face amount of the bail bond.
USEFUL TIPS WHEN POSTING BAIL
- Make sure you only deal with a licensed bail agent. Ask to see the bail agents license and identification prior to any bail transaction.
- Make sure the bail agent explains the premium you are being charged. The premium charged for a bail bond varies from state to state. Additional charges above the allowed premium should be itemized and explained to your satisfaction.
- Make sure you are given itemized receipts of all charges.
- Make sure you are given copies of all signed contracts and agreements.
- If financing is provided, make sure you understand the terms of the financial agreement prior to signing and be sure you are given copies of anything you sign.
- Make sure the bail agent you contract with will be available to you after the bail bond has been posted. Part of what you pay for is service. Any professional bail agent will be available for questions or concerns throughout the entire process.
“Bond” means an appearance bond for a specified monetary amount which is executed by the defendant and a licensed bondsman pursuant to the provisions of Section 1301 et seq. of this title and which is issued to a court clerk as security for the subsequent court appearance of the defendant upon release from actual custody pending the appearance.“Bail bondsman” means a surety bondsman, professional bondsman, property bondsman, or a cash bondsman as hereinafter defined.
“Cash bondsman” means any person who has been approved by the Commissioner and who deposits cash money as security for a bail bond in a judicial proceeding and charges and receives money for his or her services.
“Surety bondsman” means any person who has been approved by the Commissioner and appointed by an insurer or a professional bondsman, by power of attorney, to execute or countersign bail bonds for the insurer or a professional bondsman, in connection with judicial proceedings and charges and receives money for his or her services.
“Property bondsman” means any person who has been approved by the Commissioner and who pledges real property as security for a bail bond in a judicial proceeding and charges and receives money for his or her services.
THE BAIL PROCESS
When someone is arrested, he or she is first taken to a police station to be booked. When a suspect is booked, or processed, a police officer records information about the suspect (name, address, birthday, appearance) and the alleged crime. The police officer conducts a criminal background check, takes the suspect’s fingerprints and mugshot and seizes and inventories any personal property, which will be returned when the suspect is released. The suspect is also checked to see if he or she is intoxicated and usually is allowed to make a phone call. Finally, an officer puts the suspect in a jail cell, usually with other recently booked suspects.
For less serious crimes, a suspect may be allowed to post bail immediately after being booked. Otherwise, the suspect will have to wait (usually less than 48 hours) for an arraignment where a judge will determine if the accused is eligible for bail and at what cost.
The amount of bail depends on the severity of the crime but is also at the judge’s discretion. Some jurisdictions have bail schedules which recommend a standard bail amount.
In determining bail, a judge may take into account this amount but will also consider the defendant’s criminal record (if any), his or her history of showing up for past court appearances, ties to the community, whether the defendant is a danger to others and any other concerns that may be raised.