The world of bail bonds requires a unique understanding of the law, as well as how the bail process is affected by said law. The law, of course, is the one that states people who commit crimes will be arrested and put in jail. The majority of people would prefer to avoid jail at all costs, so they may request a hearing to pay bail or provide a bail bond.
Of course, these two terms are often used together and interchangeably, which makes it confusing for some people to understand what they’re dealing with. In this guide, we’ll cover all the details to help you figure out what happens next when you or a loved one has been placed under arrest.
Bail refers to the amount of money that will have to be posted to release a defendant from jail in the interim as they await trial. This is typically issued in a cash amount, ranging from $1,000 up to $500,000 or more on high-profile cases with high-profile defendants. Typical bail ranges from $500 to $100,000, depending on the offense committed and whether the individual presents any kind of flight risk.
If you cannot pay the cash bail, you will need to get help, either from family or friends or more likely from a bail bonds company. Texas courts use bail to ensure that defendants appear in court, but don’t have to sit in jail until that time, believing that it’s fair for many people to be able to return to their lives until the case is heard in court. Courts can take months, or even years, to fully process cases. Therefore, bail is designed to prevent people from spending all that time behind bars.
This may also be referred to as “cash bail” and will be returned (less a 10% fee) after the case is over.
If you don’t have the cash to cover the bail amount, you may choose to call a bail bonds company. The “bond” refers to the type of agreement made between the defendant/cosigner and the bail company. Essentially, the bail company agrees to write the bond for a small fee, and/or collateral of property, vehicles, or other assets. Then, the individual can go free until their hearing. If they flee or miss court, the bail bonds company will seize any collateral, and will likely attempt to track the person down and arrest them for fleeing bail, returning them to jail with even more charges.
Bonds come in two forms: standard bail bonds and property bonds.
Standard bail bonds are a promise to pay any forfeited bail in cash by the bail company on behalf of the defendant. The bail bond may be secured by property if the bail agent is not willing to write an unsecured bond. They charge a fee for this service and that fee needs to be paid at the time of the agreement for the bail bond to be posted. The fee can usually be paid by credit card.
Property bonds are an option for those who have property of sufficient value and type to qualify as collateral for the court. These usually involve real estate, but could also be bonds offered based on collateral like high-end jewelry, vehicles, and other high-value items. What is accepted will usually vary from one court to the next, so be sure to discuss the options to determine what the best option will be.
Whether it’s cash bail or a bond, the process is fairly similar. When a defendant can’t make bail, they will call a bail bond company, which will secure the bail bond on their behalf. This will cost the defendant (or his/her family) 10% of the bond amount. Again, this varies from one company to the next, the amount of the bail, and so forth.
Provided that the defendant appears in court on all the necessary dates, the bail amount will never be paid to the court. If the defendant flees or misses a court date, the bail is forfeited and paid by the bail bondsman, and the defendant will become responsible for repaying the bail bondsman. This could result in subsequent arrests or other legal action taken by the bond agency to recoup their losses.
Bail amounts will vary depending on the type and severity of the crime. Some defendants are released without bail. Others are held with no bail for severe offenses. All courts have their own bail schedule, based on the criminal offense that took place. The bail may also be higher if:
- The crime is extreme or severe
- There are prior convictions
- Restraining orders are present
- The defendant is already on probation
- The defendant is a flight risk or safety risk
Talk to an Expert for the Help You Need
Now that you know more about how bail and bail bonds work, you’ll be more prepared to discuss your needs with a professional. Find a reputable bail company to help you or your loved one avoid sitting in jail for weeks, months, or even years until a trial occurs. There is also the option to request a bail reduction, which can happen at the bail hearing, provided that there is evidence that the bail should be reduced. This could be if there is already time spent in jail because the case was delayed, or for some other reason.
In any case, bail bond companies will ensure that you or your loved one gets the support (and bail) they need so that you can continue with your lives between the arrest and the trial.