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The process of understanding bail bonds is a complicated one. From who gets assigned a bail amount to how the amount is decided and who pays it, there are a lot of factors that go into bail bonds. And then there are bail bond agents, too, that can play a role. The underlying concept behind bail bonds is that people who are arrested for an alleged crime can be released while awaiting trial to be with their families, if a pre-determined amount of money is paid.
What is Bail?
Bail refers to an amount of money that is assigned to a defendant or arrestee after they have been arrested but before their case has ended. Bail most often involves the defendant or someone paying the bail on the defendant’s behalf. When a bail amount if paid to the court, the defendant can return home while awaiting the end of their case. The bail is essentially a form of collateral that ensures the defendant will return to court when they are summoned to finish their case; in that regard, bail is a means by which the court ensures defendants will return to court for their trial, rather than remaining in custody and away from their families for the duration of the time.
Bail performs some essential functions within the judicial system. For one, it frees up a lot of jail space as defendants can wait out their trials at home, rather than crowding out the city jails. It also helps to ensure that those defendants return to court when they are supposed to. Most often, people are released on bail after they are arrested but before they have been sentenced; there are cases, however, where a court can release a person on bail even after a sentence has been issued. These situations are case by case and vary greatly depending on a variety of circumstances.
Most often, an arrest comes with three potential outcomes; the defendant is released, charged with a crime but released on bail, or charged and, in extreme cases of serious crimes, have to remain in custody for thd duration of the case.
Bail and Arrests
When a person is arrested for a crime, they are physically taken into custody, most often by police officers. They are transferred to a jail for the administrative process most commonly referred to as ‘booking’.
Sometimes, arrestees can be released without having a charge filed against them, but once charges are officially filed, the arrestee has to remain in custody until they are released on bail, a ruling is passed, or the case comes to an end in some other way.
A court deciding on who is eligible for bail and what that bail amount is set at is a complicated process. First, a bail hearing is held for the court to determine the bail amount to be set, if any. State laws vary, so rulings can differ from state to state.
The court uses a number of factors to determine bail amount such as flight rush, community obligations, familial obligations, finances and assets, seriousness of the crime, and danger and risk to society.
During a bail hearing, in addition to the bail amount that is determined, bail conditions are also decided. Bail conditions are stipulations that are set out, and if they are not followed, bail can be revoked and the defendant will most likely have to spend the rest of their case in custody. Bail conditions are similar to probation demands that are strictly enforced. If the conditions are violated, the bail can be revoked or altered.