Most people have a basic understanding of what happens inside a court during a bail hearing. However, few people know how the bail process actually works in its entirety. The following guide provides crucial insight regarding the bail bond process prevalent in the United States of America legal system.
Understanding the Bail Bonds Process
The term bail refers to an agreement between the court and the defendant by which he/she agrees to appear before the court on any scheduled future dates after being released from the jail. The defendant, however, has to pay a fixed sum of money set by the court to be granted bail. The court is obliged to return the money even if the defendant is convicted in the end, provided he/she was present on every date. But if the defendant misses even one court date, the money being paid for the bail amount will be forfeited to the court.
If a situation arises where the defendant is not able to pay the amount needed to be released from jail, he/she has the option to arrange the payment from a certain kind of service. This is where the concept of bail bonds comes into play. A bail bond is typically a contract between the court and a licensed bail agent by which the court agrees to accept the bail amount on behalf of the defendant. The bail agent or the bail bondsman in turn ensures the presence of the defendant before the court on any scheduled future dates.
Typically, a bail bondsman charges 10% of the total bail amount from the defendant. For instance, if the bail amount is being set as $20,000, the bail agent will charge $2,000 from the defendant as his fee. In addition to that, the bail bondsman also asks for some kind of collateral from the defendant. This collateral may be in the form of a house, a movable or immovable asset, land property, or any other type of valuable property. The defendant is also required to produce a co-signor to the bail bondsman who agrees to take responsibility on his behalf.
Duration of the Bail Bond Process
Generally the bail bond process is considered as timely and efficient. In a usual scenario, the defendant is already arrested and his/her family members or relatives have to approach a bail agent. The bail bondsman asks a series of questions to them in order to qualify for the bond. Once the qualification process is finished the bond is delivered to the jail authorities for review, after which the defendant is released on bail. It usually takes a few hours to a few days for the arrested individual to get released from the jail.
Types of Bail Bonds
Overall there are 7 types of bail bonds that are used to secure a defendant’s release from the jail:
- Citation Release
In this type of release, the police official does not arrest the suspect. Instead, he/she issues a citation on the basis of which the suspect has to appear before the judge. It is usually given for minor crimes such as violation of traffic rules.
- Own Recognizance
In this type of release, no money is needed; a promise must be given by the defendant stating that he/she will appear before the court on a given date. The defendant has to sign the paperwork to be released from the custody.
- Cash Bond
Cash bond is used when cash is to be paid for getting the defendant out of the jail. It does not include any credit cards or checks. During the pending trial, if the defendant does not miss any court date, he will get most of the money at the end of the trial, irrespective of the outcome.
- Surety Bond
In the absence of enough cash, the defendant can get out of the custody by working with a bail bondsman. This form of bond is called surety bond, which can be secured by paying 10% of the amount to the bail bondsman.
- Property Bonds
A property bond is a bond that posts the value of tangible property, such as real estate, in order to obtain a pre-trial release from jail. Generally, the courts require a warranty deed and a tax statement showing the property’s market value. The court hearing ensures that everything is agreed upon and only after that, the bail is granted.
- Federal Bail Bonds
These types of bonds only come into question when a federal crime is being committed. They proceed almost similar to the property bonds, only that the transaction is done directly with the court. The bail bondsman is not required in this situation.
- Immigration Bail Bond
An immigration bond is used for non-residents of the United States. It is difficult to obtain because a specific criteria must be fulfilled first. The defendant can avail the help from a bail bondsman.
Collaterals Accepted by Bail Bondsmen
The different bail bond services have their own standards but for the most part you can expect them the following forms of bail collateral:
- Real estate
- Credit cards
- Personal credit
- Bank account