FAQS ABOUT BAIL BONDS
What is bail?
In short, bail is a part of our legal system that allows an accused person to be temporarily released from custody so they can continue their lives while they prepare for their day in court. When they post bail, they are allowed to leave jail until their next court appearance. In criminal cases, it is a sum of money, real property, or bail bond that needs to be posted by or on behalf of a defendant to guarantee their appearance in court. The right to reasonable bail is guaranteed to you by the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.
HOW DOES A BAIL BOND WORK?
The court system will set the amount of bail required for the defendant’s release. Under state law, a company can provide a “bail bond” that guarantees payment of the full bail amount to the court if the defendant does not show up for all scheduled appearances. These bail bonds are offered by licensed bail agencies. For providing the pre-trial release service, bail service providers charge a premium – a percentage of the total bail amount, typically 10%. For example, for a bail amount set at $20,000, the premium would be about $ $2,000 plus any additional fees required. The bail service provider must charge the premium rate that it has filed with the Department of Insurance and the premium is not refundable once the defendant is released, even if eventually found not guilty by a court.
WHAT IS A BAIL BOND?
A bail bond is a financial guarantee made by or on behalf of a criminal defendant that is used to guarantee their appearance in court through the end of their trial. Failure by the defendant to appear will result in a bail bond forfeiture.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BAIL BOND AMOUNT AND PREMIUM?
The bail bond amount is the full amount of the bail that is set by the court, often paid for by a bail bond agency. The premium is the dollar amount charged by the bail service provider for providing the pre-trial release service. Usually, this premium is up to 10% of the bail amount. For example, if the bail amount is $20,000, the premium charged would be $2,000.
WHO IS A CO-SIGNER/GUARANTOR?
A co-signer/guarantor is the person(s) willing to be responsible for the defendant while they are out on bail and who co-assumes financial responsibility, including guarantee of the full bail bond amount.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN A BAIL BOND IS EXONERATED?
A bail bond is exonerated when the legal process/trial has finished. It does not matter whether the defendant is found guilty/innocent or if the case has been dismissed. At this point, the bail bond is discharged. However, any unpaid premium, fees or other amounts charged by the bail service provider are still owed.
WHEN DOES A FORFEITURE TAKE PLACE?
A forfeiture occurs when a defendant fails to appear in court. If a defendant misses a court date, a bench warrant is issued for their arrest. It is possible in many cases that the bail bond may be “reinstated” by the defendant working with The Firm Bail Bonds to report back to the court, which allows the court to set a new trial date for the defendant.
WHAT IS A SUMMARY JUDGMENT?
A summary judgment is issued by the court if, following a bail bond forfeiture, the deadline for reinstating the bond or returning the defendant to custody has passed. Upon issuance of a summary judgment, the full bail amount must be paid.
WHAT IS A REINSTATEMENT?
This is a process by which a defendant who has failed to appear in court can have their bench warrant removed and the bail bond re-activated or “reinstated” with the court. The defendant, working with their bail bond agent, will report back to the court, which allows the court to set a new court date for the defendant. This proceeding may result in additional fees to the defendant/co-signer.
WHAT IS CONSIDERED BY THE COURT IN FIXING THE AMOUNT OF THE BAIL?
The amount of the bail is first and foremost within the scope and discretion of the judge or magistrate, with only two general limitations:a. The purpose of bail is not to penalize or punish the defendant, but only to secure the appearance of the accused, and it should be set with that in mind.b. Excessive bail, not warranted by the circumstances or the evidence at hand, is not only improper but a violation of Constitutional rights. In fixing the amount of the bail, the court takes into consideration the seriousness of the charge, the defendant’s previous criminal record, and the probability of the defendant appearing at the trial or hearing.Additionally, if public safety is an issue, the court may make an inquiry where it may consider allegations of injury to the victim, danger to the public and/or to the defendant, threats to the victim or a witness, the use of a deadly weapon and the defendant’s use or possession of controlled substances. A judge or magistrate setting bail in other than a scheduled or usual amount must state on the record the reasons and address the issue of threats made against a victim or a witness. The court must also consider evidence offered by the detained person regarding ties to the community and ability to post bond. The bail amount set by the court must be within the minimum range amount of bail that would reasonably assure the defendant’s appearance – NOT the maximum! It is important to remember that it is the court magistrate that determines bail amounts.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO BAIL SOMEONE OUT OF JAIL?
All cases are different when seeking bail money. To answer this question can be found if you contact a licensed bondsman in the nearest The Firm Bail Bond office, or by calling us at (833) 449-0404 and we can help direct you.
IS THE PREMIUM REFUNDABLE?
The defendant and any co-signer(s) are responsible to the bail service provider for the premium and any fees or additional expenses incurred by the bail service provider on their behalf. This money is earned at the time the defendant is released from custody and therefore not subject to return. This is the case even if the defendant is found innocent, the case is dismissed, or the defendant is placed back into custody for another offense.