How Does Bail Work?
Bail is an exchange of money between a defendant and law enforcement agencies that almost guarantees that the former will appear in court on a specified date. The money is refunded if the defendant shows up. Should that person fail to appear for a hearing, the bail is forfeited, and a warrant is then issued for that person’s arrest.
How Much Does Bail Cost?
The bail amount is determined by a local judge who uses state guidelines to set a particular fee. State guidelines are necessary because the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits excessive bail or fines. Here are some of the factors that determine the cost of bail:
- The severity of the offense
- The accused person’s criminal record
Can I be Ineligible for Bail?
Bail may be denied in some cases. The decision to withhold bail is solely at a judge’s discretion. He may deny an individual the opportunity to post bail in cases where:
- That person poses an extreme danger to himself or others
- The judge believes that the defendant will flee the jurisdiction
- The crime in question is especially violent or heinous
- Witness or evidence tampering may occur
- The person being charged has numerous counts or a lengthy criminal record
Released Without Paying Bail
If an offense is relatively minor, bail is unneeded. An individual may be released on his own recognizance. Recognizance is a promise to appear in court at a future date.
What if I Can’t Afford Bail?
Those who are arrested for crimes often lack the financial resources that are necessary to pay bail. In one of these instances, the services of a bail bondsman might be required. A bail bondsman provides a defendant with the cash needed to post bail. He generally accepts a 10 percent fee in exchange for his services. This fee is non-refundable in the event that the accused does not appear in court. If a defendant is absent on the day of the trial, the bail bondsman is responsible for locating that individual and bringing him or her to justice.
Please call criminal defense lawyer Brett A. Podolsky at 713-227-0087 if you wish to learn more about recognizance or bail.