What is a bail bond, and what is a bail bondsman?
Bail is a legal process by which a defendant in a criminal case is given the opportunity to await their trial at home. The defendant gives a certain amount of money to the court to secure his or her release from jail before being tried. Trials take a long time to make their way through the courts, and everyone understands that the defendant may be innocent. By posting bond, the defendant can await his or her trial at home instead of in a cell. Generally, if the defendant follows court procedures, most of this money will be returned once the trial is over.
A bail bondsman is the person who helps to secure the release of a defendant from jail. He or she will pledge property or money to the court in order to allow a defendant to come home. North Carolina bail bondsmen must be licensed and appointed, as Dwayne White and the team at A S A P Bail Bonds are. We’ll get your loved one out of jail as quickly as we can.
The Bail Process
The bail process starts with an arrest. A defendant or suspect in a crime is taken into custody by police officers. This person is taken to the local jail and then “booked” into the system. The booking process includes the following steps:
- Taking the defendant’s photo (mug shot) and fingerprints
- Recording the defendant’s alleged crime
- Running a background check on the defendant
- Testing the defendant for intoxication or the use of illegal drugs
Generally, at the end of this process, the defendant is allowed to make a phone call. When this is complete, the suspect is incarcerated.
Posting bail is how many defendants are released from jail to wait at home for their trials. Sometimes a suspect is allowed to post bail immediately, but if the crime is serious, bail will be set at a bail hearing. This is held no more than 48 hours after the time of the arrest. At the hearing, a magistrate or judge will set the amount of bail required to secure the defendant’s release — if the defendant will be granted bail at all.
The judge or magistrate may consider the following factors when deciding on the bail amount:
- The nature and seriousness of the crime
- Whether the defendant is considered a flight risk
- The defendant’s criminal history, including whether he or she has not shown up for court appearances in the past
- Whether the defendant could be a risk to others
- The defendant’s community ties
- How stable the defendant’s history of residence and employment are
Generally, the judge has discretion when it comes to setting bail, but some areas might have specific guidelines for the judge to follow.
How do I Post Bond for Someone?
Once bail is set, the defendant or someone who cares about him or her can post bond. There are many ways to post bond. The defendant or a family member can post it directly (using either cash or assets), or a bail bondsman can do it. The bail bondsman will post the bond in return for up to 15% of the bond amount, which is non-refundable. Even if you are not in the same locality as a friend or family member in jail, you can ask a bail bondsman to help you post bail in that area.
What are the Different Types of Bail Bonds?
There are a number of different types of bonds, including the following:
Surety Bonds: The bail bondsman promises the court that the defendant will appear in court as ordered and that he or she will pay if the defendant does not come to court. The agent uses his or her own property or a surety company as the guarantee.
Cash Bail: The accused posts his or her own bond in cash, not property, and will not be able to get this cash back unless he or she makes all of his or her court appearances.
Property Bond: The court takes out a lien on the defendant’s property, such as a home or car, and is empowered to take this property if the defendant does not appear in court. This is not as common as cash or surety bonds.
Release on Personal Recognizance: In this case, the accused is released without having to post bond at all. Usually the county or other law enforcement agency will administer this program.
Unsecured Personal Bond: Similar to being released on personal recognizance, the defendant does not have to post any money or property to be released. However, there is a cash penalty attached to the bond to be paid if the defendant does not come to court.
Secured Personal Bond: The defendant posts a bond directly to the court, hoping that it will be returned at the end of the trial. If the defendant makes all of his or her court dates and is not convicted, this money will be returned. If the defendant is convicted, this money may become part of a fine or it may be returned.
Pre-Trial Release Bonds: The defendant’s case is referred to an officer of the pre-trial release unit. The defendant is released, but he or she must meet certain requirements: verify employment and residence, participate in drug screening, attend counseling, be monitored electronically, or take part in home or office visits. The government usually funds this program.