How Do Bail Bonds Work?

When someone is arrested and charged with a crime, a judge determines if they are eligible for bail. The judge has the authority to release the defendant without any bail, set a bail for a specific amount or decide that the defendant is ineligible for any bail. In addition to this, the judge can determine the type of bail that the defendant receives.

The judge takes three things into consideration when deciding bail.

  1. The type of crime the defendant is suspected of having committed – is the defendant suspected of a violent crime?
  2. The level of threat that the defendant may pose to the public – has the defendant been convicted of other crimes?
  3. The likelihood that the defendant will flee before criminal proceedings – does the defendant have any familial ties to the area?

In addition to considering these factors, judges may consider the defendant’s economic resources. For example, a low-income defendant may have a lower bond set for the same crime as a higher income defendant.

Personal Recognizance

A personal recognizance bond is when the judge releases a defendant without requiring him to pay any funds. Generally this type of bail is awarded to defendants without criminal history, suspected of a non-violent offense, and with ties to the jurisdiction.

Secured Bail

A secured bond is the most common type of bond. This type of bond requires that a relative or friend of the defendant pay the bond in order to secure his release. Generally a family member will pay a bail bondsman 10% of the bond as a fee to put up the total amount. If the defendant doesn’t attend his court date, then the bondsman will seek the rest of the funds from the family member.

Unsecured Bail

Unsecured bail is the middle ground between secured bail and personal recognizance. This type of bail requires a defendant to agree to pay the full bail if they don’t make their court date. However, the defendant does not need to pay any amount to a bondsman, or the court, prior release. If the defendant doesn’t show up to court, then they will be arrested and expected to pay the full amount.

No Bail

If a judge believes that a particular defendant is unfit for any option of bail then the defendant is held in custody until his trial. Though the judge has made an initial determination on bail, the defendant’s attorney can ask the court to review that ruling based on facts that may come to light in the future.

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