Daily Archives: February 13, 2019

Gavel with a bundle of cash in the middle

The Basics of Bail: Conditions and Release

Gavel with a bundle of cash in the middleThe concept behind bail is a simple one. When someone gets arrested, someone pays the court so the arrested person can be temporarily released. But how exactly does that work, and what if they can’t pay the entire amount? Anyone facing arrest should know exactly how the system works. This way, they can be prepared with information on 24-hour bail bond services in case such a need arises.

Bail: Schedules and Conditions

Bail money serves as a contingency provided to the court to ensure the defendant shows up for their hearings and goes through the rest of the criminal justice process. It is not a form of punishment, but a way for defendants to stay out of custody before a determination of guilt or innocence. Imposing bail means defendants don’t have to wait in prison while awaiting trial. It reduces overcrowding in jails.


A bail schedule refers to the required monetary amounts associated with specific crimes in a jurisdiction. State laws determine what is appropriate for each crime. Judges are normally allowed to exercise some discretion in increasing or decreasing bail amounts from the standards the law sets, depending on the individual circumstances of a case.


Courts weigh several factors in the determination of bail. These include flight risk, family obligations, income and assets, seriousness of the crime, criminal history, public safety, and community connections. Besides money, bail often comes with additional limitations imposed on the defendant. Any violation could force them into custody to await trial and the immediate forfeiture of the bail amount. Such limitations include conditions on pretrial check-ins, no-contact orders, employment, travel, firearms, and substance use.

Types of Bail

Prison guard escorting an inmateDepending on the state, a variety of bail types are available to the defendant. They can provide a cash bond, a personal recognizance, an unsecured or secured bond, or a surety bond to the court. If the defendant is unable to pay, someone else may do so on their behalf.

For example, bail bonds or surety bonds are payments that bail bond agents provide for a defendant. The defendant pays a fee about 10-15% of their bail amount and the agent acts as a surety to the court. If they fail to show up on required dates, the agent will have to pay the full bond fee to the court.

Return of Bail Money

As bail isn’t imposed as a form of punishment, bail money is returned if the defendant complies with all terms and conditions. Upon the conclusion of the case, the bail amount is repaid to the payer. However, the courts normally keep a small amount of as an administrative fee.

On the other hand, bail money is forfeited to the court if the defendant breaks any of the bail conditions or does not show up on their trial date. The defendant may petition the court for a reinstatement of bail and a return of bail money if they can prove they had a good reason for breaking the conditions, like having a medical emergency.

Defendants choosing to put up bail can mitigate their risk of serious financial loss by complying with the conditions imposed by the court.