How Bail Works In Your Criminal Case

If you've been arrested on a criminal charge, the court may set bail as a way to make sure that you show up for your trial. Besides the emotional headache of your arrest, now you have to deal with the financial burden of being arrested. Here is how bail works and what your criminal attorney can do to help with that burden.

The Long History of Bail

Bail was established as a way to keep people from waiting in jail for long periods for their court date. The origin of bail actually came from England, before the creation of the American colonies. As the justice system was developed in the U.S., it also adopted this concept of bail.

Criminal offenses are categorized as bailable or non-bailable. Charges for which there is no bail are those serious felonies such as murder or manslaughter. For other charges, bail is available and judges have guidelines as to how much to set for your bail. One action of your attorney will be to limit the amount of bail you would have to pay.

The Setting of Bail

Based on the charge that has been brought against you, the judge will set your bail. The general rule is that the more serious the charge, the higher will be the bail. If this is your first offense and your attorney can show the judge that you are of good character and will likely show up for trial, the bail may be waived. If you have a history with the court system, and have always appeared for your hearing, your lawyer may get your bail reduced.

Once the bail is set, there are three ways you can proceed:

  • You can refuse to take the bail offer and stay in jail until your court date.
  • If you have enough money, you can pay a cash bail to the court, then you can leave and go home. When you show up for the hearing, you'll get all of your money back. If you don't show up, you lose that money and a warrant will be issued for your arrest.
  • If you don't have enough money, you can use a bail bondsman to pay the bail for you.

The Role of the Bail Bondsman

This person pays the bail for you and, for this service, charges you a fee. When you show up for your court date, the court gives the bail bondsman their money back. You still have to pay the fee.

If you fail to show up for the hearing when a bondsman has posted your bail, a lot of things are put into motion. This is called jumping bail and means you're now in serious trouble:

  • The court issues a warrant for your arrest.
  • The bail bondsmen hires investigators or bounty hunters to find you and bring you in for the hearing.
  • Only when the bondsman is successful at bringing you into the court will they get their bail money back.

The bail bondsman will be highly motivated to find you so you will have both their resources and the law enforcement personnel looking for you should you jump bail and miss your trial date.

If you are arrested, get in touch with a criminal lawyer like Edward Galang Law immediately so they can work for you to reduce or waive the bail. You'll be able to go home to your family and job, and you'll have to deal with less of a financial burden while waiting for your hearing.