If you have been arrested and sent to jail, pending a trial, you will want to get out at the earliest. The judge may agree to give you bail depending on the nature of the crime, your criminal history, flight risk, chances of your committing another crime, etc. Bail is cash or collateral of other acceptable assets that assures the court that you will turn up for the appearances in court as and when needed. If you don’t turn up in court or violate the other bail conditions, you will be rearrested, and sent to jail, and your bail will be forfeited.
The Process of Setting the Bail Amount
Most jails have bail schedules specifying the bail amounts for various common crimes to expedite the granting of bail for eligible offenses. You can get out of jail quickly without appearing before the judge by paying the specified bail amount. You can request the judge to reduce it at a special bail hearing or when you make your first appearance in court if you cannot afford the bail amount. More recently, some courts are using computer algorithms to assess the risk posed by the defendant based on inputs like criminal history and age that he will not appear in court or commit another crime.
Even though the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires bail amounts to be not excessive, many judges set unaffordable amounts to keep the defendant in jail till the trial is over. The bail amount is not to be used to punish the defendant or used to raise money for the government. According to Castle Bail Bonds, the sole intention of the bail is to allow the defendant to be free pending trial and sentencing but ensure he appears in court as required.
Typical Bail Conditions
All defendants must also comply with various bail conditions. Typically, the defendant needs to obey all laws, not use alcohol or drugs, carry weapons, or other special conditions reflecting the nature of the crime committed. According to FindLaw, the court will order the rearrest of the defendant, send him to jail, and forfeit the bail amount. If bail is revoked, the defendant will not be eligible to get bail the second time.
Options for Posting Bail
The defendant can use cash or check to post the bail amount or offer property as collateral. If he does not have enough money or property, he can buy a bond for the amount of the bail from a bail bondsman or bail bond company. The fees charged for a bail bond varies from 10 percent to 20 percent of the bail amount. The judge may waive the payment and release an accused on his “own recognizance” in rare cases if the defendant has an excellent standing in the community or the offense is minor.
If you are arrested you should immediately request bail. If you cannot afford it, you can request a reduction or approach a bail bondsman to issue you the surety on the payment of fees. You need to comply with the terms of the bail or risk forfeiture and re-arrest.