The Bail Process
Bail is an amount of money or other collateral a court agrees to accept and keep in escrow in exchange for the release a defendant from custody until a case is resolved; the amount paid is often a portion of the bail amount that is set, usually 10%, and may be refunded at the end of the case. Usually the defendant must show up at all proceedings regarding the case if he hopes to recover the bail at the resolution.
The bail process begins after arrest and after a suspect is booked on a charge or charges. The defendant then has an arraignment or bail hearing. Bail is not, however, a guaranteed right, and whether to grant bail and the amount is entirely up to the discretion of the judge. A defendant may negotiate for his own bail or have a criminal defense attorney do so on his behalf.
What types of bail are accepted?
Depending on the jurisdiction, the following may be used to satisfy bail agreements: cash, property, or other collateral. If the mediums used are property or other collateral, the value must be equal to the value of the bail bond.
Can bail be revoked?
Yes, in some circumstances. Sometimes judges attach special provisions to bail in addition to appearing in court. Common bail restrictions include the following:
- Attending drug and/or alcohol rehabilitation
- Restrictions on movement (geographical and/or time of day)
- Prohibition of certain activities (for example, drug/alcohol use)
If a defendant fails to adhere to the conditions required by the bail arrangement, bail could be revoked.
What does it mean to “skip bail?”
Skipping bail is not showing up for court appearances at the scheduled times. If a defendant skips bail, he runs the risk of not only losing the paid bail money but also facing further criminal charges and fines as well. Needless to say, the court will also not look kindly upon the infraction when the defendant does make it back to court.
What is “released on his own recognizance” mean?
This means that the court takes the word of the defendant (without the payment of any money or collateral) that he will show up for court. First offenders and defendants charged with minor crimes are among those more likely to be released on their own recognizance.