A friend or loved one getting arrested is traumatic no matter the circumstances. If you don’t have experience with the criminal court system, it makes matters even more complicated and overwhelming.
Likely, the first thing you want to do is get your loved one out of jail. To do that, you’ll need to pay their bail.
Since bail tends to get set at amounts that are too high for most people to afford to pay, you’ll most likely need a bail bond.
If you’re wondering, “What is a bail bond?” you’re in good company. In this article, we’ll dive deep into all matters regarding bail and bail bonds.
What Is Bail?
Bail is the amount of money a court decides is a fair price for releasing a defendant from jail. Legally, bail is an agreement between the court and the person accused of a crime or the defendant.
Essentially, to get released from jail, the defendant agrees to pay the bail amount the court sets. They also agree to show up for every scheduled court appearance throughout the duration of their trial.
If the defendant pays their bail, gets released from jail, and shows up to all of their court appearances, the court will refund the cost of their bail once the trial concludes. It doesn’t matter whether the defendant gets convicted.
However, if the defendant fails to show up for even one court date, they forfeit their bail.
The reason bail is so important is that if a defendant can’t pay their bail, they will have to remain in jail until the conclusion of their trial. It can take months and even years between an arrest and the just start of a trial.
According to the Prison Policy Initiative, less than 25 percent of the local jail population in the United States are people who have been convicted of a crime.
When a person gets arrested for a crime, they get taken to jail and booked. Getting booked means their personal information and description of the crime gets logged into the police computer system. They also get fingerprinted, have their belongings taken from them, and get assigned to a cell to wait.
Then a hearing is set. At the hearing, a judge sets the bail. Ideally, hearings occur within 48 hours of the arrest.
How Does the Bail Amount Get Determined?
So, how does a judge set bail? In theory, bail gets determined by the severity of the crime and the criminal history of the defendant. But other things come into play as well.
Details like whether the defendant is gainfully employed can cause a judge to reduce the bail amount. Being local and having family in the area can help reduce the bail too. Sometimes judges waive bail for first offenders.
However, having a criminal history, being convicted of violent crimes, or being a flight risk are all factors that will count against you. In these cases, judges set higher bail amounts. Judges have a lot of leeway in setting bail.
Sometimes in the case of low-level offenses, bail gets set automatically when the person gets booked. Occasionally it’s possible to pay these bails with a credit card, but most are cash bail.
What Is a Bail Bond?
Because bail amounts get set so high, the majority of people can’t afford cash bail. When a person can’t afford to pay in cash, they can borrow money from friends and family or use a bail bonds service or bail agent.
Bail bonds services function similar to a bank in that they give you a loan. You put down a small percentage of the total bail amount, and the bail agent loans you the remainder.
Bail agents also charge a bail premium. These can be as much as 10 to 20 percent of the bond amount. Bail premiums are non-refundable.
To secure a bail bond, you will have to put up some form of collateral of equivalent value to the cost of the loan. The risk is that defendant forfeits their bail money if they miss even one court date.
Since collateral is usually something precious, like a house or vehicle, the person who put up the collateral will lose that property if the defendant forfeits their bail.
Fortunately, bond agents like to protect their investment. They are taking a significant financial risk by bonding the defendant’s bail. So they will make an effort to make sure the defendant shows up to everything required of them.
If the defendant does end up fleeing, the bail agent will probably hire a bounty hunter to go after them. They would much rather get their investment back than end up owning somebody’s property.
Different Types of Bonds
There are a few different types of bonds to consider. These include surety bonds, property bonds, and immigration bonds.
A sure bond is a bond secured by an insurance company. To get a surety bond, agents work with an insurance company. Then the insurance company finances the bond.
In some cases, defendants who own property can put down their property in place of cash bail.
If the defendant owns a house, the court may put a lien on that house. If the defendant skips court, the court can sell the house to pay the bond.
If the reason your friend or loved one was arrested has anything to do with immigration, they may qualify for an immigration bond. An immigration bond would allow them to be released from ICE custody until the end of their case.
Getting a Bail Bond in Raleigh
So, what is a bail bond? A bail bond is what many people use to finance the cost of the bail amount set by a judge. Bails are generally set too high for the average American to pay in cash, so many people end up using a bail bond.
If someone you love has been accused of a crime and cannot pay their cash bail, contact Raleigh Bail Bonds today. We will work with you to make sure your loved one gets released as soon as possible.