What is Bail?
Simply put, when someone is arrested, that person or another can pay the court “bail,” and the arrested person can go free. After the arrested person has appeared at all required court dates, he or she gets the bail amount back.
It is more complicated than that, but that’s the basic idea.
What is a Bail Bond?
If a person can’t pay the bail, he or she can enter into an agreement with a bail bond agent or a bondsman to pay the bail on his or her behalf. Usually the defendant must put down a percentage of the bail and then provide collateral for the remaining amount that can be sold if he or she doesn’t show up in court at all required dates.
If the defendant does appear at all court dates, the bond agent keeps the deposit and returns the collateral.
Factors Considered When Setting Bail
Bail isn’t a given. The court holds a bail hearing, and depending on the following factors, it will grant or deny bail, and if bail is granted, these factors will be considered in the amount of bail set.
1. Public Safety. If a defendant’s release will put people’s safety at risk, bail may not be allowed at all.
2. Criminal History. If a defendant has a history of violating bail (failing to appear), bail may be denied, or a high dollar amount may be imposed.
3. Seriousness of Crime. A person arrested for a serious crime (i.e. murder) may be denied bail or have a high bail amount set.
4. Flight Risk. Defendants who are likely to flee may be denied bail or have a high amount set.
5. Income/Employment. The court looks at what a person stands to lose if they can’t pay bail and must stay in custody. A defendant’s income is also considered.
Types of Bail
1. Bail Bond or Surety Bond: See description above.
2. Secured Bond (Property Bond): Instead of paying cash, the defendant gives the court a security interest in a property.
3. OR/PR Bond (Own Recognizance/Personal Recognizance): A defendant simply promises to show up in court and is released.
4. Unsecured Bond (Signature Bond). Defendants promise to show up in court but sign a statement that they will pay the bond amount if they don’t appear.
5. Cash Bond: Simply paying the full amount of the set bail.
Conditions of Bail
Getting out on bail doesn’t mean life goes back to normal. Courts will usually impose a variety of restrictions in conjunction with the bail. These can include:
1. Travel Restrictions. Defendants out on bail usually must stay in the area.
2. No Substance Use. A defendant usually may not use drugs or alcohol when out on bail, especially if the case involves offenses related to substance abuse.
3. No Firearm Use. Even if the defendant’s case did not involve firearms, typically a person out on bail may not use them.
4. Employment. The court can require that a person out on bail keep working or, if unemployed, try to find work.
5. Pretrial Checking In. A person out on bail usually must check in with pretrial services officers to confirm that he or she is keeping the bail conditions.
6. No-Contact Orders. Usually a defendant cannot contact alleged victims of the crime he or she has been arrested for.
Read more about bail bonds in Jacksonville FL here.