When someone needs to post bail to get out of jail while they are waiting for their day in court, it can be a difficult time for some. Not everyone has the money to easily post bail, and this is where getting help from a bail bond agent can make a huge difference. These companies can help cover the cost of the bail on behalf of the person in jail.
Usually, the set mount for bail during trial hearings is set by the judge ahead of the sentencing. It is used to keep someone from trying to make a run for it and to try and skip out on their court hearing. When the bail is posted by a bonding company, they expect the full bail amount plus any fees or interest they charge to be paid after the sentencing is passed by the judge.
Talking to local bail bondsmen is the best way to get answers to common questions and to get the full definition of bail extended meaning in terms of your court hearing. From getting help with your bail hearing cases and determining how to deal with a bail in non bailable offence your local bail bondsman is a great place to get started.
When someone is arrested and held for a trial and charged with a crime, they may have the option of being sent home on bail to wait their trial. Jail bail is essentially a price set by the judge that must be paid to guarantee the individual does not try to make a run for it and evade their trial and sentencing.
There are different types and levels of jail bonds that can be set – bail conditions for common assault may be different from bail for a motor vehicle accident or some kind of drug sale or possession charge. Many people ask the question of how bail decision is made at what stage of the trial. Usually, bond is set when the judge determined the date for the trial that would result in sentencing or dismissal of the charges.
Working with a skilled and experienced attorney can help ensure you comprehend the overall process and what all is involved. Form helping you understated things like bail extended meaning and whether you are facing a bail in non bailable offence, your legal team will be the best source of information regarding your jail bond terms and your rights.
There are a lot of people who have negative misconceptions about bail. In some cases, they believe that it is a tool that is used to exempt rich people from their crimes. However, this is not necessarily the case. Sometimes, it can help people who have been falsely accused. It is also not applicable to every single case. Furthermore, it only gives the person a temporary release from jail, on the condition that he or she appears in court when he or she is supposed to. It can definitely be very useful to learn about concepts that are related to bail.
If you are interested in learning more about bail, you might want to talk to someone who has more experience with it, such as an attorney or someone who provides bail bondsmen services. These individuals will be able to tell you about different concepts that are related to bail, such as the relationship between bail and jail, bail arguments, the bail bond interest rate, and different bail bond resources that can be helpful. Knowing about all of this can be helpful in the case that you or someone you love ever needs to be bailed out of jail at some point.
Recently, serious legal scholars have begun to rethink bail. Although bail goes back centuries in English law, current research shows that bail unfairly burdens poor, homeless, mentally ill, and addicted people arrested for crimes.
In response to these concerns, opponents of the bail system have taken steps to try to make bail fairer. Some measures include:
- Abolition: Some cities and states have abolished their bail systems. When people are arrested in these places, they are charged and released. If they fail to appear for required court appearances, they can be re-arrested.
- Reform: Bail reform includes adjusting the amounts charged to bail out of jail and encouraging judges to use alternatives to bail for lesser crimes. If you are arrested in these places, you might be required to register with pre-trial services to be monitored and reminded of your court dates.
- Bail funds: When a government will not abolish or reform its bail system, public interest groups like Massachusetts Bail Fund create a fund to pay bail for people arrested for crimes in their area. These bail funds are typically operated as non-profit services rather than a for-profit bail bond services.
Here is some information about bail and how the Massachusetts Bail Fund supplements bail bondsmen.
What is Bail?
Bail is security to ensure a criminal defendant appears in court. The theory is that if the criminal defendant leaves property in the possession of the court, the criminal defendant will make all the required court dates to get the property back. In other words, someone who is on bail has two possible outcomes:
- Make all the court appearances and receive the bail back (minus processing fees and court fines, in some jurisdictions).
- Miss court and forfeit the bail.
The U.S. Constitution does not guarantee a right to bail. But it does protect criminal defendants from paying ‘excessive bail.’ Courts have interpreted this to mean that criminal defendants are entitled to a bail hearing where a judge or magistrate sets bail in proportion to the crime charged and the defendants’ circumstances.
So, for example, a criminal defense lawyer might argue that someone arrested for shoplifting $50 of goods should be released without bail or with minimal bail. On the other hand, a prosecutor might argue that someone arrested for homicide should not be granted bail or should be released with very high bail requirements.
In each of these cases, the judge must determine whether to grant bail or hold the defendant in jail until trial. If the judge grants bail, the judge must set a bail amount that is not excessive under the circumstances. Some of the factors used in setting bail include:
- Severity of the crime: A more severe crime justifies higher bail because a defendant is more likely to flee if the potential sentence is greater.
- Danger to the community: A judge might not grant bail to someone who is a danger to the community. Instead, the person might be held in jail until trial.
- Fight risk: If a defendant has a lot of money, a passport, or several homes, the judge might increase the bail requirements to ensure the defendant appears in court rather than fleeing the jurisdiction.
Bail can be granted in any criminal case. In some states, this includes criminal contempt but not civil contempt. So, for example, a judge who jails someone for being behind on child support payments might not have a right to a bail hearing. But a child custody attorney might ask for a bail hearing for someone who is jailed for custodial interference or kidnapping.
What is the Bail Bond Process?
A bail bond is one way that someone can pay bail without having the money to pay in cash. For example, if a judge sets bail at $5,000, the defendant might not be able to pay cash. The defendant would have a few options:
- Post property instead of cash. For example, some courts will take the deed to land or the title to a vehicle instead of cash.
- Take out a loan.
- Hire a professional bail bondsman.
A bail bondsman is licensed by the state and has the backing of a surety company. A surety company is another name for an insurer, but rather than issuing home or auto insurance policies, the surety company insures bail bonds.
Instead of posting cash, the bail bondsman gives the court a promise. This promise is called a ‘bond.’ The promise states that you will show up for all your court hearings and, if you do not, the bail bondsman will either pay your bail or return you to jail.
Suppose a judge sets your bail at $5,000, and you hire a bail bond agent to post your bail. The agent will sign a bond with the court and the jail will release you into the agent’s custody. If you miss any of your court dates, the agent must either give $5,000 to the court or send a bounty hunter to capture you and return you to jail.
Problems with the Bail Process
Problems can arise in the bail process for defendants who are poor, homeless, mentally ill, or have substance addictions. For these criminal defendants, bail criminalizes poverty and illness. In other words, people with the means to hire a bail bondsman service can get released from jail until trial. But those who do not have the means to hire a bail bondsman must stay in jail until trial.
This happens because bail bondsmen require three things to write a bond:
- Fee: Bail bondsmen usually charge a 10% fee to write a bond. Thus, for a $5,000 bond, they will usually charge a fee of $500. If the defendant or the defendant’s family does not have the money to pay the fee, the bail bondsman cannot write the bond.
- Co-signer: Bail bondsmen usually require a co-signer on a bond. This gives the bail bondsman a way to pursue you if you miss any of your court dates. If you do not have a co-signer who is willing to be responsible for you during your release, the bail bondsman will probably be reluctant to write a bond.
- Collateral: This is usually the biggest obstacle to getting a bail bond. You or your co-signer must post collateral to cover the bail in the event that you miss your court appearances. As mentioned above, if you miss court, the bail bondsman must either cover the bail or return you to jail. The collateral will be sold to cover your bail if you miss court. Bail agents will usually take almost any form of collateral including cash, vehicle titles, property deeds, firearms, jewelry, or other valuable property.
In many cases, the defendant does not have the means to get a bail bond. In these circumstances, bail funds can help supplement the work of bail bondsmen.
How Do Bail Funds Work?
Bail funds are usually charitable operations that keep money on hand and issue grants to pay bail. In the case of the Massachusetts Bail Fund, the organization offers $1,000 grants to help pay bail. If your bail is less than $1,000, the bail fund will pay your entire bail. If your bail is greater than $1,000, the bail fund will pay up to $1,000 toward your bail.
This can help in a few respects.
- If your bail is less than $1,000, you do not need to get a bail bondsman or borrow money for bail. Instead, you can rely on the bail fund to pay your bail.
- If your bail is greater than $1,000, you might still need to get a bail bondsman or borrow money to cover your bail. But the $1,000 grant from the bail fund will substantially reduce the cost of your bond or the amount of money you need to borrow.
The money given by the bail fund is paid directly to the court. But it is not a loan. You do not need to repay the bail fund. Instead, you just make all of your court appearances and the court will return the bail money to the bail fund.
What Happens if You Miss Court?
If you are out on bail, and you miss court, a judge will issue a bench warrant. This warrant does not mean you have been charged with a new crime. But it does mean that you have not taken care of the old charges and the police can hold you in jail until you can appear before the judge.
The judge will also issue a notice of forfeiture. This is a notice that whatever you posted for bail will be forfeited to the court if you do not appear. In the case of a bail bond, this starts a clock ticking for a bounty hunter to track you down and return you to jail.
In the case of the Massachusetts Bail Fund, the fund allows the process to play out. If you appear, your bail may be revoked, and you may be held in jail. But the money would be returned to the bail fund. Alternatively, a judge may reinstate your bail, and you may be allowed to bail out again. You would need to speak to the Massachusetts Bail Fund to find out if you can receive another grant.
According to the Massachusetts Bail Fund website, the organization only posts bail in a few locations in Massachusetts including:
- Middleton House of Corrections
- Suffolk County House of Corrections
- Nashua Street Jail
- Worcester County House of Corrections
If you are incarcerated in any other location, you might need to search for a bail fund that serves your jurisdiction.
The Massachusetts Bail Fund issues grants without regard to the charges. In other words, the decision to issue grants is charge-neutral. You can apply for a grant whether you were charged with DUI, domestic violence, or murder. The fund also does not consider your past court history. Thus, if you have a history of missing court dates, you will still be considered for bail funds.
The application for bail funds is filed by the defendant’s criminal defense lawyer. The bail fund requires as much information as possible to evaluate the application and decide whether to issue a grant. Because their resources are limited, the bail fund cannot grant every request for funds.
If your request is granted, the bail fund posts its share of the bail along with any additional funds to meet your bail. The bail fund and your other co-signers are both responsible for you while you are free on bail. If you miss any court dates, both the fail fund and your other co-signers will lose the money they posted for bail.
Does it Work?
According to the Massachusetts Bail Fund, reminders and check-ins are just as effective as bail. In other words, whether you post your money or the bail fund’s money, you are just as likely to appear in court as long as you have someone to remind you of your court dates and have someone check on you periodically.
Before the pandemic, the Massachusetts Bail Fund provided transportation for people who had posted bail. Unfortunately, during the pandemic, they had to suspend that service even for those with a negative COVID19 test. But the bail fund has found that providing services to criminal defendants is necessary to balance out the justice system even during a pandemic.
According to their research, people who have been released on bail get better outcomes in their cases. People held in jail often plead guilty so they have a path to release. By making bail, they can focus on their criminal defense without feeling pressured by incarceration.
The Massachusetts Bail Fund is dedicated to the abolition of the cash bail system. But until the efforts to end bail see success, the Massachusetts Bail Fund will provide defendants in need with the ability to get released from jail. This improves their lives and the functioning of the justice system.