Maybe someone you know is sitting in jail and you just find out that you can help assist them by getting them bail. What is the purpose of bail? How does one get access to bail bonds? What is a bail bond? There are so many questions that arise when it comes to all of the different aspects of the law that it can be easy to become overwhelmed with all of the information required in order to understand what is going on. With the right information, you can easily get through this entire process.
What is the purpose of bail? The legal definition of bail is “the amount of money defendants must post in order to be released from custody while awaiting trial”. This is what theoretically makes sure that the defendant will appear in court on their designated court date. When the trial is over, the bail is generally returned after the trial is completed, though there may be a processing fee that gets deducted in some states. There are a few different factors that will decide if a defendant gets bail and how much that bail will be. The judge will take in consideration the flight risk of the defendant, the severity of the crime committed and the safety of the community. If the person has no prior criminal history and does not pose a danger to the community, they may be released on their own recognizance. This is when a defendant promises to show up at their hearing.
If the defendant or their family is unable to pay for their bail, they will be able to get a bail bond from a bail bondsperson. A bail bond is where a person will pay a certain percentage of the bail to the bondsperson and they will guarantee the rest of the amount of the bail if the defendant does not show up to court. In general, the upfront money required for bail is about 10%. Because the bail bond is an investment in the defendant, a bail bondsperson will generally use the services of private investigators and bounty hunters in order to keep track of their investment.
One criticism of bail is that it does not actually keep the general public safe because it only guarantees that someone that cannot afford the bail will be locked up rather than the more dangerous person. A person can get out of jail for the right amount of money, something a seasoned criminal or someone with a lot of resources can access. For people without these types of resources, they can end up spending unnecessary time in jail just because they cannot afford their bail.
There are many resources that you can turn to with any questions on bail, including attorneys, legal aid, and your local bail bondsperson. They can let you know of all of the conditions of the bail and what you are agreeing to when accepting their bail bond. It can be an overwhelming process but you have numerous resources within your reach to assist you during this process.