How Do Bail Bonds Work?
When someone is arrested for a crime, the judge has the option of setting a bail. The judge will determine the bail amount after examining various factors surrounding the arrest and defendant such as the alleged crime, facts in the affidavit of probable cause, defendant’s criminal record, where the defendant resides, and any other flight-risk factors. Basically, the more of a flight-risk the judge views the defendant, the higher the bail. The reason for this is because when the defendant posts bail, he is ensuring to the court that he will appear at the required court dates. So, if the defendant is willing to fork over money, then it is likely he will go to court so he will eventually get the money back after the case is over. If he does not go to court, the bond that was posted could be forfeited and it would go to the court. The defendant would then be required to post a second bond if the judge is willing to set another bail.
The More Serious the Charge, the Higher the Bail
The more serious the charge is, the higher the bail amount will be. If the defendant is facing a charge that carries prison time or even mandatory prison time, the judge will set the bail very high because the defendant becomes more of a flight-risk. The judge knows the defendant may choose to just not appear at court and run off and hide. Therefore, judges typically do not set low bail for serious charges. Minor felony charges will have lower bail amounts ranging from $1000 – $5000. Misdemeanor charges such as simple assault may have bail amounts of around $500 – $2500. Many times, police officers will not even book an individual on a misdemeanor and just issue a summons to appear in court, therefore, no bail is set.
Options for Posting Bail
If you can’t afford to post a cash bond, which is posting the entire bail amount yourself at the jail, then you could hire a bail bondsman to post it. You would pay the bail bondsman 10-12% of the bail amount. That is his fee for putting up the entire amount. Therefore, you would not get that percentage fee back after the case. On the other hand, if you posted a cash bond, you would get the entire amount back after the case if the defendant shows up to his required court appearances.
Bail Bond Example
For example, let’s say the defendant is arrested in New Orleans, Louisiana for possession with intent to distribute cocaine (5 ounces). Let’s say the defendant’s address on his driver’s license is in Texas. The judge has determined based on the facts and circumstances that bail should be $50,000.
The defendant’s family/friends could pay $50,000 in cash to the jail and hope he goes to court so they can get the money back in the end. It is a risk for them. He is facing a charge that will be prosecuted firmly and carries prison time.
The family/friends could hire a bail bondsman and pay him $5000-6000 to put up the entire $50,000. The bondsman will keep that $5000-6000 fee as his payment. So, the family will be out of that money.
Do not post a bond. If it seems like the defendant may end up doing time anyway, it may be smarter to save your money and put it towards a criminal defense attorney so he can minimize the jail sentence or even beat the case.
Try to get the bail reduced or a ROR bond, personal surety, or sign-out bond. Hire a criminal defense attorney to contact the judge. Depending on the bail amount and facts and circumstances, the attorney might be able to get a reduced bail. This will not happen in every case. The attorney would have to show some mitigating factors to the judge that he didn’t know about when initially setting the bail.
- Is the defendant on parole or probation?
If so, there will likely be a hold, so posting bail is a bad idea since he won’t get out anyway.
- Does the defendant have pending charges in that jurisdiction or elsewhere?
This is important because if he is already on bond and he gets a new arrest, that would be a violation of his bond conditions on the first case. Therefore, the prosecutor in the first case could move to have his bond revoked which would land him in jail. Posting bail on the second case would be pointless.
As you can see, there are many factors involved when deciding to bail someone out of jail. The bail bonds process is very simple on a case like a first-offense DWI but gets more complicated with more serious charges. Getting the help of a criminal defense attorney early on is the best option. We can help you figure out the best strategy.