Whatever the reason, anyone accused of a crime, arrested, and jailed will seek release as soon as possible, which can happen if bail can be posted. A payment must be made to the courts for release in exchange of a promise to return to court at a later date. It can take the services of an attorney to complete the transaction and be released until that later court date. It sounds relatively simple – yet most people do not actually know the details behind this action – and posting bail represents a lot more than simply getting out of jail.
What Exactly Is Bail?
Basically, a bail payment is an insurance card paid for by the accused and given to the courts that promises that the accused will return for a hearing if allowed to leave jail. This is the reason why bail is usually set to high amounts that can sometimes be difficult or impossible to be paid in full.
When an accused is able to post bail and does return for a scheduled hearing, the money posted will be returned. Those who do not return will lose any posted money and then become responsible for the entire balance. A warrant is issued for the arrest of the defendant, whose troubles have then gone from bad to worse.
Release on bail is also subject to whatever conditions the courts has set; if those conditions are followed, a warrant is then issued for the defendant’s arrest and a release on bail may be rescinded. Conditions associated with release on bail frequently may be as simple as abiding by all laws; however, some may be more specific such as a restraining order or other restrictions associated to the crime of which the defendant is accused.
How Does Bail Work?
Although most can pay bail and be released from jail the same day of the arrest, bail is actually decided by the judge of that court which usually does not happen until at least the next day. So most courts have developed a fee schedule based on common types of arrests so that an accused can be released once payment is made.
- Higher Than Normal Bail – With more serious crimes, bail may be set higher than an accused can pay. In such cases, a defendant may have to appeal to the judge for a lowered amount, although there is no guarantee it will be granted. Sometimes a judge may feel that a defendant should remain in jail until a hearing and sets the bail higher than what most can pay to exercise what is called preventive detention. It is not always popular but is recognized as legal and fair by the courts and continues to be used.
- No Bail Required – In contrast, it is possible for more trusted defendants to be released without paying anything, with the promise that they will return when required to a court hearing. This is called being released on their own cognizance; it is sometimes granted to those who live with family in a community, have a local job, have no prior record, or have always appeared when required for other hearings.
- Bail Bonds – Bail payments are accepted in cash, check, collateral, or bond. Bail bonds are purchased with a payment of 10 percent of the bail amount and guarantee of full payment; there is also a fee that makes the final amount higher. Even if bail is waived after a court hearing, the bond fee must be paid.
Anyone who has been arrested and charged with a crime is advised to contact an attorney as soon as possible for guidance about the bail process. It can be a very confusing time and legal counsel is definitely the best way for an accused to understand and work within the established bail system.
Reynaldo G. Garza, III
680 E. St Charles, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520