For the most part, the bail system in the United States is pretty straightforward. However, there are some aspects that may be surprising to even someone who has gone through the process previously. To understand some of these quirks, here is a quick rundown.
Why bail exists
For those who aren’t aware, bail is a cash amount that a judge decides upon
based on several factors such as previous offenses, how severe the charges are and the safety of society as well as the defendant themselves. If the crimes are particularly violent in nature, the defendant is considered a high flight risk or it is a terrorist charge, then it may be considered an unbailable offense and no bond will be granted. This however is rare and most will be offered bond. This bond cost will need to be paid by either paying the full amount upfront or hiring the services of a bail bondsman who typically charges about 10% of the bond cost as a service fee but you will not have to pay anymore beyond that. When the bond is paid, the defendant gets released but has to return for the court hearing otherwise the bond will be forfeited and a warrant will be issue for the defendant’s arrest.
You can’t get bonds everywhere
While Colorado has a normal bond system, there are several
other states around the country that have gotten rid of the traditional system. These include Oregon, California, Washington DC and more. These states no longer allow for bail bondsman and instead decide whether to release people on different parameters such as past history and severity.
Cash bond is not always the best way
Even you have a stash of cash that you can tap into to pay a
cash bond, there are a few reasons why it still may be better to go with a bail bondsman. The first is that if this is your entire savings, this cash will be tied up with the courts for several months so it could affect your liquidity. Also when that money is returned it will be less because the courts will automatically deduct any fines or fees associated with the case and arrest. If you go with a bail bondsman you have more control overpaying these fees back.
The court appearance is just step one
For many situations, the judge won’t just set a bond and you
show up one time to court and all is done. Sadly it is not that easy. If drugs
are involved, you may have to submit to drug tests or go to counseling and
often more than one hearing can take place, This is why a bond is only
completed when the case in its entirety is.