Just what are bail bonds for? What is the bail bond process?
When a person is arrested and charged with a crime, he or she goes through an arraignment. The court may decide to offer release from detention if a defendant pleads not guilty to the crime and he or she is believed to be neither a threat to society nor a flight risk – at least until the agreed upon trial date.
After assessment, a bail amount is set by the court. The purpose of the bail bond is to ensure the defendant’s attendance in court for future proceedings, and is usually provided by a third party, known as a bail bondsman or bail agent, who agrees to be responsible for the bail amount.
When you are arrested for a crime, you will be taken to a police station where you will be processed – meaning a police officer will record information about you, such as your name, address, birthday and appearance, as well as the crime you are being accused for. A criminal background check will be conducted, and you will be fingerprinted. Your mugshot will be taken and any personal property on your person will be seized and inventoried. These will only be returned to you upon your release from detention. It is also standard procedure for police officers to check you for intoxication and allow you to make one phone call before they put you in a jail cell together with other offenders.
If the crime you are charged with is of a less serious nature, you may be allowed to post bail immediately after you are processed or ‘booked’. However, if you are charged with a serious offense, you will usually have to wait less than 48 hours for your bail hearing where a judge will determine if you are eligible for bail. If so, the judge will also establish the bail amount.
The amount of the bail will depend on the severity of your crime. While the bail amount may be at the judge’s discretion, some jurisdictions have bail schedules which recommend a standard bail amount in relation to the crime with which a suspect is charged.
The judge takes various factors into consideration when determining the bail amount, including your criminal history (and if you do have a criminal record, whether you have a history of appearing in court for proceedings or not), whether you are a potential threat to others’ safety and well-being, your ties to your community, and other concerns that your lawyer may raise.
In case the bail set is really high, you can ask for a bail review in front of the judge at the arraignment and this can be done immediately. This will give you the chance to plead your case and show how your family and friends are supporting you, giving the judge an understanding on the kind of person that you are. This is especially helpful if you believe that you have been wrongly accused of the crime.