What is bail?
In short, bail is that part of our legal system that allows an accused person to be temporarily released from custody so they can continue their lives while they prepare for their day in court. In criminal cases, it is a sum of money, real property or surety bond that needs to be posted by, or on behalf of a defendant, to guarantee their appearance in court. The right to reasonable bail is guaranteed to you in the 8th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.
How does a bail bond work?
The court system will set the amount of bail required for the defendant's release. Under state law, a surety company can provide a type of insurance policy or "bond" that guarantees payment of the full bail amount to the court if the defendant does not show up for all scheduled appearances. These bonds are offered by licensed bail bond agencies. For supplying these bonds, bail agencies charge a premium — a percentage of the total bond amount. The premium amount is based on a case-by-case basis, taking into account many variables. The premium is not refundable once the defendant is released.
What is considered by the court in setting the amount of bail?
The amount of the bail is first and foremost within the scope and discretion of the judge or magistrate, with only two general limitations. First, the purpose of bail is not to penalize or punish the defendant, but only to secure the appearance of the accused, and it should be set with that in mind. Second, excessive bail, not warranted by the circumstances or the evidence at hand, is not only improper but a violation of constitutional rights. In fixing the amount of the bail, the court takes into consideration the seriousness of the charge, the defendant's previous criminal record, and the probability of the defendant appearing at the trial or hearing.
Additionally, if public safety is an issue, the court may make an inquiry where it may consider allegations of injury to the victim, danger to the public and/or to the defendant him/her self, threats to the victim or a witness, the use of a deadly weapon, and the defendant's use or possession of controlled substances. A judge or magistrate setting bail in other than a scheduled or usual amount must state on the record the reasons and address the issue of threats made against a victim or a witness. The court must also consider evidence offered by the detained person regarding ties to the community and ability to post bond. The bail amount set by the court must be within the minimum range amount of bail that would reasonably assure the defendant's appearance, NOT the Maximum!
What is a bail bond?
A bail bond is a financial guarantee made by or on behalf of a criminal defendant that is used to guarantee their appearance in court through the end of their trial upon release from custody. Failure by the defendant to appear will result in a bond forfeiture.
What is the difference between bond amount and bond premium?
The bond amount is the full amount of the bail that was set by the court. The premium is the dollar amount owed to the bail agency for posting the bond. The premium amount is based on a case-by-case basis, taking into account many variables.
Who is an indemnitor/guarantor?
An indemnitor/guarantor is the person(s) willing to be responsible for the defendant while they are out on bail and co-assumes financial liability to guarantee the full bond amount.
What is a bail bond exoneration?
A bail bond is exonerated when the legal process or trial has finished. It does not matter whether the defendant is found guilty or innocent or if the case is dismissed. At this point, the liability for the bond amount is discharged. However, any unpaid premium, fees or charges incurred by the bail agency on your behalf are still owed to that agency.
When does a bail bond forfeiture take place?
Bail bond forfeiture results when a court appearance is missed. If a defendant misses a court date, a bench warrant is issued for their arrest. The court also sets a deadline for when either the defendant must be located/returned to custody or the bail bond "reinstated" or the bail amount must be paid to the court.