Even those who have never been present for an arraignment or hearing are probably familiar with the concept of bail. Police and law shows often feature courtroom scenes in which defendants are granted bail and later discharged from custody.
The main purpose of being released on bail is to discourage a defendant from fleeing the jurisdiction or failing to appear in court on the scheduled trial dates. The defendant needs to post a certain sum of money, which will be used as collateral till the case is resolved. In this blog, we will look at the importance and purpose of bail.
What Is Bail?
Before going any further, it's important to define "bail." Bail refers to the discharge of an arrested person pending the conclusion of their case. A prevalent assumption is that bail usually entails the offender (or someone acting on their behalf) paying a certain amount of money or collateral to the court. Although this is the usual practice, it's only sometimes the case.
When someone is arrested, there are often three probable consequences. One possibility is that the person under arrest is released on their own recognizance. A second possible outcome is if the defendant is charged but later discharged on bail. The third scenario is when the arrested person gets charged but is held until the case is resolved. Bail is a procedure through which an offender can be let out of custody before the court decides whether or not they are guilty or innocent.
The purpose of posting bail is to guarantee the defendant's continued court appearance throughout the criminal proceedings. It ensures that the offender appears in court rather than a punishment, allowing the prosecution to proceed with the case without having to detain them.
Bail is a crucial component of the criminal justice system. Let's start with the basics of the justice system so you can see how this all fits together.
Whenever someone is detained for a felony or misdemeanor, they could be kept there as their matter is being processed. Police can more easily ensure that the offender appears in court on time since they are already in custody. If they were detained in a facility, it could be easier to track them down and guarantee their court appearance.
If they fail to show up for court, the court will not reimburse the bail amount paid to be released from custody. Bail helps people get through the difficulties of being free while waiting for a trial. A defendant is released from custody after posting bail. Essentially, the offender is incentivized to show up to court because they would be reimbursed for the amount of money they spent for their discharge.
Bail also aids in reducing the number of inmates that can be housed in a given facility. In addition, you can use bail for other purposes. These include:
The Presumption of Innocence
The presumption of innocence is among the fundamental rights that everyone has, regardless of whether they are guilty of committing an alleged offense. The presumption of innocence is the cornerstone of every criminal legal proceeding, and it is crucial since the goal of the judicial system isn't to apprehend and incarcerate as many offenders as possible but rather to safeguard innocent defendants and ensure public safety.
Everyone should be presumed innocent in a criminal proceeding until guilt is established. Just because someone is taken into custody does not mean they will automatically be found guilty of any wrongdoing. They are taken into custody so they can face a trial in court for the alleged crime. As a result, it is unethical to keep an innocent person locked up in jail for a considerable time before being convicted of a crime.
Unfortunately, the court system has difficulties due to the presumption of innocence. Individuals who have committed crimes but still haven't gone to trial could use this period to flee the jurisdiction or hide to avoid a conviction. Meanwhile, those accused of violent crimes could threaten the public.
Bail becomes relevant in this situation. Judges have the authority to release people who have been accused of certain offenses with the expectation that they will show up for future court dates. Bail enables the legal system to uphold the safety of the public and each defendant's right to be assumed innocent until guilt is established.
Lifting Restrictions from Anyone Presumed Innocent
Until and unless the prosecution can establish guilt beyond a shadow of a doubt, a person accused of committing a crime is presumed innocent. If they’ve been imprisoned while waiting for trial, it's as if they're being punished, even though they are assumed innocent. When there is no evidence that someone committed a crime, it is unjust to impose limitations or penalties on them.
Bail is intended to correct the injustice of incarcerating a person who is probably innocent.
It is crucial to keep in mind that those who have actually perpetrated an offense but have not yet been found guilty could use the time spent outside of jail to flee. Bail is designed to help in such situations.
Courts only discharge defendants with the premise that they will participate in the legal processes. By doing so, authorities can make sure the offender doesn't commit any further crimes or flee during this period. In addition to defending a person's right to the assumption of innocence, the bail procedure helps to increase the general public's safety.
Facing the Plaintiff During Trial
According to the Sixth Amendment, anyone accused of a crime in the United States must be given a fair trial before an unbiased jury. The accused will be able to face and question their accuser during the trial.
A defendant who is granted bail but fails to return for trial is not effectively exercising their rights under the Constitution. They have the opportunity to face the accusers and prove their innocence if they are obliged to face trial or participate in any other aspect of the justice system (although some cases may not proceed to trial).
Resuming Usual Routines
When a defendant posts bail and is released from jail, they can resume their daily lives with few restrictions. For example, individuals are not restricted to meeting with loved ones only during designated visitation times. Unrestricted access to friends and family can help preserve strong bonds and give the accused the assistance they require during this trying period, which can positively affect their psychological well-being.
The defendant is free to visit with loved ones anytime they please, provided that the court has not imposed a no-contact ruling as a requirement of bail and can otherwise go about their daily activities without restriction. For example, they won't have to miss school or work, saving them from potential repercussions like losing their jobs.
Bail significantly reduces the burden placed on taxpayers. It is expensive to keep defendants in custody for an extended period, especially in regions with a high crime rate. Keeping defendants in jail for months will hurt the defendant's finances and the government's.
Our bail system reduces pre-trial detentions, making communities secure and saving money for the taxpayers.
Setting of Bail
Judges determine bail amounts. Since many people prefer to be released from jail right away (rather than waiting another day or more to go to court), most jails offer regular bail plans that establish bail sums for common offenses. It is common practice for an accused person to be able to post bail and leave jail shortly after their arrest, as determined by the bail schedule to the detention facility.
If an accused person would like to post bail but lacks the funds to do so, he or she could ask the court to reduce the bail amount. A request for reduced bail could be submitted either during a separate bail hearing or at the initial court appearance, based on the state's policies. This is usually known as an arraignment.
Under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution, bail cannot be set at an amount deemed unreasonable to the crime. This implies that bail shouldn't be set at a high amount only to generate income for the state and that it shouldn't be used as a kind of punishment for those under arrest.
Currently, a court can refuse to grant bail if it feels it will endanger the public. There needs to be substantial proof that the defendant's release on bail would lead to more criminal activity that poses a threat to the community. The following offenses provide grounds for denial:
- Crimes for which the accused has prior multiple convictions
- Murder and other acts of violence
- Serious offenses against juveniles
- Drug offenses punishable by more than ten years behind bars
However, just because you've been charged with one of the following offenses doesn't imply the judge will necessarily deny bail. Before deciding to reject bail in the interest of public safety, the court considers the arrest's nature, the case's specifics, and any other relevant information.
It is critical to note that individuals held without bail are detained or sent to detention, and not sentenced before being found guilty.
Bail Payment Options
Bail could take several forms, including:
- Full payment of bail in the form of cash or a cashier's cheque
- Property with a value equal to the bail amount
- A bond
- Payment exemption that is subject to the defendant's presence in court hearings. This is often referred to as the "own recognizance" release
Although obtaining a bond at a fee of 10% of the value of the bond seems like a great alternative to posting cash bail, it could cost more. A full refund of the bail payment, minus any applicable fees, would be issued once the case has been resolved and all court hearings have been fulfilled. In contrast, the 10% premium paid to the bail bondsman is not refundable.
Moreover, "collateral" could be required by the bail bondsman. This implies that the individual posting bail will also have to give the bail bond company a financial stake in the defendant's assets. If the defendant misses or fails to show up for court proceedings, the bail bondsman can recoup this share of the bond.
Getting Released from a Detention Center
A person could be allowed to leave detention "on their own recognizance," abbreviated as "O.R." To be granted O.R., an accused person needs to pledge to appear in court, and no bail or other security would be necessary.
At the initial court hearing, the offender will often ask to be released on his or her own recognizance. The accused will likely request a low bail if the magistrate refuses. In most cases, individuals who are eligible for O.R. have strong relations and ties to the neighborhood and won't flee if given a chance.
Possible arguments in favor of an O.R. release before the judge are as follows:
- Having family members, like parents, children, or a spouse, already residing in the community
- Having lived in the neighborhood for a long time
- Being employed
- Having a minor or no criminal background or only criminal issues that were trivial and took place many years ago
- Always appearing as required when accused of previous crimes
These considerations may be important not just for O.R. but also for bail.
Recovering Bail From the Court
Bail should not be regarded as a type of criminal sentence or punishment. It's just a way to ensure the accused person does what must be done for the trial. The offender, or the individual who posted bail in their place, can request a release of their collateral if the bail requirements have been fulfilled.
Bail Refund or Release
Once a person posts bail and gets discharged from detention pending the outcome of the case, the bail money would be returned to the person who posted it if the terms of release were adhered to. The timeline for the release of bail payments is determined by the type of bail used and the county in which it was paid.
For instance, if a person posted cash bail, this could take up to six weeks for the money to be recovered after the case has been resolved. The courts will have to seek a lien release if the secured bond was utilized, which can also take a few weeks or longer to complete.
In some jurisdictions, like federal courts, the judge cannot automatically release the bail after the case has been resolved. In such a case, the defendant should make an appeal to the court, seeking that the bail amount paid or the lien issued on the property be freed.
Take into account that the court may retain some portion of the bail amount as an administrative charge. These fees vary depending on the jurisdiction and state.
If the accused fails to appear in court as required, the bail money would be returned to the court. If a perpetrator posts $3,000 cash bail but fails to appear in court, the full $3,000 would not be refunded. For example, suppose a house serves security in a secured bond, and the accused does not appear in court. The court can recoup the bail money through foreclosure, which will then sell the property and use the funds to cover the bail.
Failing to show up in court can lead to the forfeiture of bail. However, if the accused can provide a solid reason for their absence, the court could reinstate their bail. If the offender has legitimate grounds for missing court, like a medical emergency, he or she could ask the judge to reinstate bail. When bail terms are reinstated, the offender will be released from jail and can still get their money back if they follow the rules.
Recovering Bail From a Bail Bondsman
After the case is concluded and all bail requirements have been completed, the bail bondsman will release the security and remove any liens against the property. However, regardless of the result of the case, the bail bondsman's fee (usually 10% of the entire bail amount) won't be refunded.
If an accused person who has used a bail bond company's services fails to show up for court, the bail bondsman could now try to locate and re-arrest the defendant. Most of the time, bail bondsmen will be given a grace period by the courts after their client has infringed bail conditions.
A bail bondsman may avoid paying the full bail sum if he or she can bring the offender back to court within the given grace period. In such cases, the bail bondsman will likely hire bail enforcement officers or bounty hunters to locate the defendant.
Find a Professional Bail Bondsman Near Me
If you or a loved one needs the assistance of a bail bondsman, don't hesitate to contact Justice Bail Bonds. You can count on us for immediate assistance with any bail bond requirements at any time of the day or night. Our bail bondsmen serve in the city of Temecula, California. Contact us today at 951-445-4155.