When someone is arrested for committing a criminal offense, it can be an extremely scary time, not only in their life but also in their family members’ lives. Whether arrested for a serious crime, a family fight, or a seemingly simple traffic violation, the emotional impact of an arrest can create concern, anxiety and panic for all involved.
Once an arrest has been made, the party will be transported to jail where they will be booked, and contingent on the crime, may then have to wait for their first court appearance which is known as the bail hearing. The most pressing concern for the family is usually how to get them out of jail as soon as possible. The judge will determine if they will be allowed out on bond or kept in jail. The determination largely depends upon the type of crime they are charged with and if they have a prior criminal record. Legal representation, such as found at the Devore Law Office, should be secured as soon as possible to ensure protection of all rights.
Understanding the Bail Process
Once an individual has been arrested, their first appearance in court is called the bail hearing. The prosecutor requests a certain amount of money in exchange for the release of the person from custody. This bail is a type of insurance; it can either be money or property pledged to persuade the judge to release the suspect from jail. Normally a small percentage of the amount, 10%, must be paid to the court to “bail out” the suspect. If family or friends are not able to provide the amount, it can be secured from a bail bondsman who is an agent of a corporation that can provide the funds. Search the internet or your local phone directory to find a local bail bondsman. If the suspect does not return for trial, the paid amount will be forfeited, and the full amount will become due. Depending on the type of crime, the arrestee may be able to post bail without a court hearing. The court has the right to deny bail if the accused is deemed a flight risk or poses a threat to the community.
Types of Bail
Contact the jail where the individual is being held and ask to speak to someone in the booking department. The booking officer will let you know how much is required for bail or if there is a cash bond only situation. In these cases, a bail bondsman cannot be used. There are three different types of bail, which include the following:
- Cash— The defendant must pay the full amount in cash, however some courts will accepts checks or a credit card.
- Surety Bond— This type involves friends or relatives contacting a bail bondsman. The bail bondsman is backed by a certain type of insurance company. The surety company pledges to pay the full value of the bond if the defendant fails to appear in court. In addition to charging a ten percent fee, the bail agent may collect some type of collateral, such as the title to a house, boat or car.
- Property Bond— The defendant’s friends or relatives can put up their property as collateral. The court will obtain a lien on the property for the amount required. If the defendant skips bail, the court can foreclose on the property in order to recover the forfeited bail.
In some cases, the court can choose to release the defendant on their own personal recognizance. This means that the person can be released from custody without paying bail but they must show up for their next court appearance.
The amount of bail may seem extreme, however the 8th Amendment of the US Constitution prevents the government from setting excessive amounts or fines. For the person obtaining the bail, it can be difficult and time consuming to wade through the processes necessary to get your relative or friend out of jail, so remember to stay calm, patient and focused on the end goal. They will undoubtedly thank you for it.
Teresa Stewart, amazed by the complexities of a common process, writes to remove the mystery and assist others to navigate the maze of bailing out a family member or friend. Attorney Kevin Devore of DeVore Law Office has extensive litigation experience, and his practice covers multiple areas from assault to federal offenses. The office is located in St. Paul, but covers all areas in Minnesota, and the Midwest.