Getting arrested is never fun, but depending on the type and severity of the crime, you may be allowed to leave jail and wait for your trial at home. To do that, however, you'll need to qualify for bail, which will likely require you to pay a fee, which is proof you will attend your court hearing. If you or a loved one has been arrested, check out these five facts you must know about bail and bail bonds.
You Don't Always Need Bail Money
For many crimes, you'll need to pay bail money to be released from jail. However, in some cases, you may be released on your own recognizance (OR). It's each individual judge's decision regarding who they grant OR, and they typically only do it if you aren't considered a threat. The judge will consider many factors to determine if you qualify for OR, including the severity of the crime, your personal criminal record, your potential threat to the public, and whether you have any ties to the community. For example, if you have lived in the same city your entire life, have never previously broken the law, and have been arrested for a non-violent crime, you may be granted OR. However, if you are new to the area, have a criminal record, and committed a violent act, the judge will likely consider you a threat and not approve OR.
You May Need Someone to Take Responsibility for You
If you do not qualify for OR, you may need someone to bail you out by paying money and taking responsibility for you. By signing a bail bond contract and getting you out of jail, your loved one agrees to follow certain guidelines. To start, they must ensure you attend every court date. If you don't attend every court date or if you disappear, your loved one may be responsible for additional fees or the entire bail. In addition, depending on the severity of the crime and the terms of your bail, the person who bailed you out may also be responsible for ensuring you attend therapy, avoid drugs/alcohol, take special courses, etc.
You Can Use Cash or Collateral for Bail Money
Cash, of course, is always accepted as bail money. If you have the money on your person or in your bank account, you can have someone use it to bail you out. However, you can also use collateral for bail money. The collateral must be worth enough to cover your bail, and it can include your home, car, boat, jewelry, or other expensive items. If you use a large item for collateral like your home, you can typically remain in the home, but the court may insist on holding the deed. For smaller items like jewelry, the court may insist on holding them until the trial is over.
Bail Money Is Usually Returned Even if You Are Found Guilty
When you get arrested, the courts may punish you with probation or jail time, but they will most assuredly punish you with fines. These fines are designed to punish you for your crime. Therefore, unless there are special circumstances (such as if you took courses to avoid fines) you won't be reimbursed for these fines. The bail money, however, is not a punishment, so if you attend your hearing, the court will reimburse you or your loved one the total amount minus any fines or fees. Even if you are found guilty and given jail time, the bail is returned. If you do not attend your trial or if you disappear, the bail is forfeited, even if someone else paid it.
Bail Bonds Are Special Loans to Help You Pay Bail
In some cases, you may need to take out a special type of loan known as a surety loan from a bail bonds provider. If you or a loved one has collateral, you can use it to secure a bail bond, but you don't need collateral. The benefits of bail bond loans is that they are fast, and you can typically get one at any time, day or night. Because it is a loan, you may need to pay extra fees or interest.
If you or a loved one has been arrested, bail may be the best course of action, so you can relax and prepare for your trial at home. If you don't qualify for OR, however, you may need to find someone who can help pay your bail. For more information regarding bail and bail bonds, contact a bail bondsman in your area today.