You hope that you never need to use a bail bond service. But if faced with staying in jail for a few days versus going home to your own bed, you'll want to know what this service can do for you. Here is how the bail process works, how your lawyer can help you get back home, and why bail bonds services have become important to many people.
A Guaranteed Night's Stay in Jail in the Old Days
At one time, people were left in jail to wait for a hearing with the judge. As the court system got backed up, it meant waiting for several days. This is when the concept of bail was created.
Bail is a sum of money you pay to the court system to leave jail and go home to your normal life while you wait for your hearing. When you come in for your hearing, you get your money back. This helped to clear out the jails and put a little money in the court's pockets. When the bail amount became too high for people to pay out of their pocket, bail bond services sprang up, allowing people to go home in spite of a bail amount that a person couldn't afford.
Setting the Bail Amount
A judge reviews the charges against you and determines the bail amount based on a set of guidelines they have for each offense. The judge also takes into account your character and any history with the court system. They want to be certain that you'll return for your hearing if let out on bail. This is a good time to have a lawyer working for you. They will petition the judge for minimum bail, or to have it waived completely. They will emphasize how responsible you are in the community and that you can be trusted to return for your hearing.
Your Choices Once Bail is Set
If a judge sets a bail amount for you, you now have a decision to make.
- You can refuse to post the bail and stay in jail.
- You can pay the bail out of your own pocket and go home.
- You can use a bail bond service to post bail for you.
How a Bail Bond Service Works
For a fee, a bail bond service will post bail for you. When you come in for your hearing, the service gets their money back, minus any court fees. If you hold up your end of the deal and go in for your hearing, the process is simple. When you fail to show up for the hearing, called skipping or jumping bail, things get much more complicated.
If you don't show up for your hearing, the judge may issue a warrant for your arrest. Local law enforcement may come looking for you. If they bring you in, you'll lose the bail money you posted. Your record will also show that you jumped bail and make it difficult for you to get bail for any future offense.
If a bail bond service posted your bail, they have professionals who are focused on finding bail jumpers. If local law enforcement finds you first, the bail service loses all of their money. If the bail service brings you in first, they get their money back, minus court fees. This makes the the bail bond service very motivated to find you first.
If you choose to use a bail bond service to cover the bail for you, make sure that you're planning to make the hearing. Otherwise, you could find yourself in an embarrassing situation when the bail bonds personnel confront you at work or in your home in front of your family. Should this happen, there won't be much that your lawyer can do to get you out of even more trouble with the court system.