Bail & Bonds: The FAQs
For many, the initial agitation caused by an arrest on the defendant and their family soon turns to one primary question: How can I get out of jail fast? The answers to these frequently asked questions about bail can help.
1. What is bail? Bail is the temporary release from jail of a defendant awaiting trial. Bail can be the defendant’s “own recognizance,” or the court may require them to place a sum of money on deposit to guarantee they will return for the trial. The amount of bail required is determined based on the risk that the defendant will not return to court.
2. What is a bail hearing? After a defendant is arrested, a bail hearing is set to decide if the defendant can be released on bail. If so, the court will set the amount of bail that must be paid. A bail hearing will generally take place within 3 days after the arrest, excluding weekends or holidays.
3. What if I can’t afford bail? If you can’t afford to deposit the full bail amount with the court, you can obtain a bail bond, a property bond, or remain in jail until the scheduled court date.
4. What is a property bond? A property bond is a bond obtained through a bail agent that pledges the value of a property, such as real estate, in order to be released until trial. It can also be referred to as bail collateral. The defendant works through a bail agent who ensures the value of the collateral is adequate and makes sure it is secured.
5. What is a bail bond? A bail bond is a contractual agreement between the defendant, the court, and a licensed bail bondsman. The bondsman guarantees the court that if the defendant doesn’t appear in court they will pay the full amount of the bond.
6. What does a bail bond cost? There is a state-imposed limitation on the fee amount a bail bondsman may charge, which is usually about 10% of the bail, paid in advance. The fee is nonrefundable, even if the defendant appears for his court date.
7. Can I pay for a bail bond in installments? Most bail bond fees can be made by credit card, which is a convenient way to post the bond quickly. Some bond agents offer payment plans, which may have interest added on top of the bond fee.
8. How quickly can a bail bond be issued? Once a contract with a bail bondsman has been signed it will usually be issued within 24 hours.
9. What if a defendant doesn’t show up for his court date? If the defendant is a no-show, the full bail amount will be due and is not refundable to the defendant. Any costs of the court or the bail bondsman to locate them is also due by the defendant.
10. When does a bail bond expire? As soon as the defendant appears at their scheduled court date the bail bond will end. The outcome of the trial does not matter.