Since the Judiciary Act of 1789 was enacted, stating that all noncapital offenses were bailable, there have been rules and regulations governing bail bonds. It wasn’t for almost 200 years after the initial act, however, that adjustments were made to the law. The Bail Reform Act of 1966 determined that non capital defendants have a right to be released, pending trial, on personal recognizance or on personal bond, unless the judicial officer determines that such incentives will not assure appearance at a trial. Revisions were again made through the Bail Reform Act of 1984 which stated that defendants should be held until a trial if they’re judged to be dangerous to the community.
Many citizens are actually very unaware of the regulations surrounding bail. Though posting bail is usually required before someone who has been arrested can be released from jail to await a trial, that is not always the case. Not everyone who is arrested is placed in jail in the first place, and in those cases, a fine usually replaces bail. However, in other cases, bail bond companies factor into the process which can be very confusing.
Determining the Amount of Bail
Once a person is arrested and booked into jail, the first thing that person would want to find out is the amount of bail money required for his or her release. For lesser crimes, like misdemeanors, the bail amount is usually standardized. Often, people arrested and placed in jail can post bail and be released within hours.
In the case of more serious crimes, a judge or magistrate will often set the bail amount. In these cases, you may have to remain in jail until an available court date. The amount is generally set at an amount necessary to guarantee that you will return to court at the appointed time. The greater your crime, the greater the bail.
Purchasing a Bail Bond
If you don’t have the money to post bail, you might be able to purchase a bail bond. These are usually handled through bail bond companies or a bail bondsman who will post bail in exchange for a fee, usually around 10% of your bail. Other collateral is often required to convince bail bond companies that you will show up for court. If you post bail yourself, you get your money back when you appear on time for court. If you work with bail bond companies, you aren’t given back your fee.
What If You Don’t Show Up?
If a defendant fails to appear for trial on the specified date, the court issues a warrant for an arrest, and the amount of the bond is forfeited to the court. Because bail bond companies are liable for bail bond amounts, they often hire professional bounty hunters to track down “skips.” Learn more at this link.