How Bail is Determined and Set
Once you’ve been arrested, you’re immediately booked to jail. Once in jail, all your vital information, such as name and personal information, as well as your photo and fingerprints are recorded in the police department’s computer and database. Also, all your personal items are impound. After being booked, you’ll be given a sobriety test. This may be a second sobriety test if you’ve been arrested due to failing the first sobriety test. After this, you’ll be permitted to make one phone call, after which you’ll be put into a jail cell. After this your hearing will be scheduled, where the judge will decide what the amount of your bail will be. This usually happens within 48 hours after your arrest.Normally the majority of jurisdictions use a schedule for bail to decide the bail amount that should be set.
The Superior Court of Los Angeles County sets a bail of $20,000 if a person has been arrested for a felony. The maximum sentence possible for for a felony is 3 years in jail. However, the judge hearing the case has considerable leeway when they decide to set bail. Frequently they will also take external circumstances into consideration when setting bail.As an example, if this was your first offense, you are currently employed, and have a family in the area, the judge may decide to reduce your bail amount below the required amount.
The judge may even decide to completely discard it.Another example would be if you have multiple offenses on your record and the judge thinks you might be a flight risk. In this instance, the judge’s decision might be to increase your bail or even revoke your ability and permission to post bail.Some jurisdictions may assign your bail as soon as you’re booked and not wait for an initial hearing. This typically happens only in low level offenses. A police officer will advise you whether you will be able to immediately post bail of if you will be permitted to use a credit card to pay your bail amount.
Bail Bonds and Their Various Types
Some of the different bail bonds that are available include:
- Surety Bond: This type of bail bond is secured by an insurance company. It’s common for bail bondsmen to work with insurance companies in order to provide financial backing for their bonds.
- Property Bond: If you own property (i.e., a house), the bail bondsman may be able to use this as collateral instead of putting down cash. With this type of bond the court places a lien on your property and can sell it if you do not appear for your court date(s).
- Release on Own Recognizance: Sometimes a judge will agree to release you without setting any bail amount. This normally happens only if you are accused of a low level crime and the judge doesn’t consider you to be a flight risk.
- Cite Out: This would be if you are caught doing something illegal and the officer then decides to issue a citation to appear in court instead of booking you into jail.
- Immigration Bond: If you are detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an immigration bond will permit you to be released from jail until your hearing is completed.
Bail and Bounty Hunters
If you decide to flee or skip your trial and a bail bondsman is not able to reach you, chances are they will then hire a person called a “bounty hunter” in order to track you down and then return you to custody.
How to Secure a Bail Bond
If your bail amount is set higher than you or your family member or friend can afford, you will need to secure a bail bond as soon as possible. However, there are still important considerations and questions you need to take into consideration.A bail bondsman will want to make sure they’re getting the most for their money. To do this they will charge a bail bond bond premium fee that is usually 10-20% of your bail bond amount. This fee is normally not refundable. This means that even if you show up for all your court dates and receive your bail money back, you will never get that 10-20% of your money back. Therefore, it would be wise to look for a bail bondsman that would require a lower premium.Also, you will also want to take into consideration if there is an initiation or application fee in addition to the premium.In addition to bail bond feeds, there are also court and attorney fees you need to take into consideration.