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America’s Bail System: Bail Bond Rules and Regulations

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If one of your friends or loved ones has recently been incarcerated, it can be an exceptionally stressful ordeal. Nobody wants the people they care about to sit in jail, even if they did break the law. The good news is that you might be able to bail that person out, allowing them to remain free until they are either acquitted or sentenced. However, it is important to understand a little bit about this process beforehand. Let’s go over some basics regarding America’s bail system.

Americas Bail System

How Does Bail Work?

The concept of “bail” is a very simple one. Instead of sitting in jail until your trial date, you can pay a certain sum of money and go free. The money is basically collateral, and so you will get it back later… but only if you show up for court. If you don’t show up for court, that bail money becomes forfeit and there will be a warrant issued for your arrest. Not only will you have to deal with the initial charges, but you will also get an extra charge for jumping bail.

How Do Bail Bonds Work?

As you might imagine, bail is not cheap. However, the exact cost will be determined by a judge at a pretrial hearing. The more severe your crime, the higher your bail is likely to be. In some cases, misdemeanor offenses might involve very low rates, but that is not the norm. You’re normally looking at hundreds or even thousands of dollars, particularly if the charges are serious.

Bail bonds allow people an easier way to pay these large amounts. They are special documents that constitute an agreement between the local government and a third-party company. If you don’t show up for court, the bail bond company will have to cover the costs. Needless to say, they will then be looking to collect from you. However, as long as you make your court date, bail bond companies can make it much easier to get out of jail.

And so, if your friend or loved one is incarcerated, you can contact a bail bond company and arrange for their release. Of course, you will need to provide them with as much specific information as you can. Also, it should be noted that you will not be able to bond someone out of jail until they have been before a judge for that pretrial hearing that we mentioned earlier. If they are arrested late at night, they usually won’t be able to see a judge until the next morning. If they are arrested on a weekend, they will probably be stuck there until Monday morning.

We should also tell you that not everybody gets the possibility of bail. For instance, if the accused has a history of skipping bail and/or evading the authorities in general, the judge may not give them any chance for bail. Likewise, some crimes are not eligible for bail, especially “capital crimes” like first-degree murder. However, most people do get an opportunity for bail.

Can This Be Done Everywhere In The United States?

Unfortunately, not all states allow these types of companies to operate. However, 42 of the 50 states will allow the use of bail bonds. The eight states that do not allow the use of bail bonds are:

  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Nebraska
  • Oregon
  • Wisconsin
  • Washington DC

How Can I Find A Bail Bond Company In My Area?

First, you obviously need to make sure you don’t live in any of the states listed above. If you are in any other state, it shouldn’t be too hard. You can start by looking up the name of your town or county, followed by the words “bail bonds.” So, for instance, if you live in Bakersfield, California, you would type in “Bakersfield bail bonds.”

The Different Types Of Bail Bonds

This is where things can get a little bit more complicated, but not by too much. There are different types of bail bonds that can be obtained, and you will need to figure out which one is needed. Here are some of the most common types:

Cash Bond

This one is pretty self-explanatory. You go to the jailhouse and pay the bond in cash. Obviously, this is the simplest way to get the job done. If you pay by check or credit card, the result is the same. However, not all municipalities will accept alternate forms of payment, so bringing cash is your best bet.

Surety Bond

These are the bond agreements that are negotiated by third-party bail bond companies. Instead of putting up the cash, the company puts up a legal agreement on your behalf. Should you fail to appear in court, the company will owe the government the entire sum of your bail. Again, that will make you liable to repay them under the terms of any bail bond agreement.

Property Bond

If you are trying to get a loved one out of jail and you simply don’t have the money, you can use a piece of property as collateral. Of course, this one can be dangerous, because they will probably seize the property if the accused does not come to court.

Immigration Bail Bond

This one works pretty much the same way as a surety bond, except that it is specifically meant for immigration violations.

Federal Bail Bond

If your incarcerated loved one is accused of a federal crime, the bond will be higher. Apart from that, a federal bail bond will be needed for their release.

Citation Release

Sometimes, if the crime is very small, the officer will simply give the accused a citation and a court date. Although most people don’t realize it, this is also technically considered to be a type of bond.

Personal Recognizance

This is just a fancy way of saying “we trust that this person will show up for court.” They will not have to pay anything. This is often done for those who have committed very small offenses so as not to overcrowd the jails any more than they already are.

Conclusion

Although this is a good introduction, we would encourage you to dive deeper and learn a little more. Every state and county will have its own laws regarding bonds, although the process doesn’t vary all that much. Still, there is something to be said for the value of being prepared. We hope that this article has helped you to be a little better prepared and that you will come back to visit again soon.

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