How The Bail Process Works

As a defendant awaiting a court trial, you might be kept in jail unless you agree to post bail. Here are some things that you should know about the bail process and how it works. 

What Options Do I Have for Making Bail?

If you are required to put up bail for your release from jail, there are often a few common options. Cash bail is one of the simplest transactions you can make; you pay the cash bail amount directly to the courts to arrange your release from jail. If this isn't an option, consult a bail bondsman to see what terms they can offer you. They might put up the bail amount on your behalf if you have adequate collateral to offer, such as property. Or, you might have a relative sign a surety bond on your behalf, which essentially makes them liable for your good behavior. 

What Are the Fees Involved?

Each type of bail may come with some fees. For instance, if you pay a cash bail to the courts and then successfully complete your trial, the amount will be returned to you minus processing fees. Bail bonds companies will also charge a percentage of the total bail amount as their fee. This amount should be under ten percent, so make sure that you're not being overcharged for your bail. The amount varies by state; Florida sets a minimum bail fee of 6.5%, while Hawaii has no maximum set.

How Long Is the Process?

Once you have found a way to pay your bail, it shouldn't be long before you're released from jail. In the case of a simple misdemeanor, you can often get the entire process taken care of within a day. This is because many courts have set bail schedules that determine the amount of bail needed for smaller crimes. Under extenuating circumstances, such as repeat offenses or a more serious crime, you may need to attend a hearing to determine your bail amount. This can cause extended stays in jail while you await your bail decision. 

What Happens if I Miss a Court Date?

If you miss a court date, the fees that you paid for bail will be forfeited. A cash bail will be kept by the courts, or your bail company will be obligated to pay the bail amount required by the court. The bail company will also likely use a bounty hunter to track you down and return you to the court. Bounty hunters can cost 10 to 20 percent of the bail cost, and these expenses will be added to your bail cost, so it's best to stay on top of your court dates and not miss any obligations. 

For more information, talk to a professional like Ron's Bonds Co.

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