You’ve probably heard the word “bail” before but may not be completely clear on what it means or how it even works. According to Nolo.com, “Bail is cash, a bond, or property that an arrested person gives to a court to ensure that he or she will appear in court when ordered to do so. If the defendant doesn’t show up, the court may keep the bail and issue a warrant for the defendant’s arrest.”
When a person is arrested, they are often released on bail during the period between the arrest and their appearance in court. Simply put, when someone is arrested, he or she will go through what is called the booking process where mugshot, fingerprints, and other information is recorded. The last step before they place a person in a jail cell is to offer the ability to post bail.
Bail can be posted in either cash or a check in the full amount of the bail, or with property worth the full amount of the bail. If someone cannot afford to pay the bond in full, a bondsman is typically hired, guaranteeing the full amount of the bail. A bail bondsman makes their money off of extra fees, meaning they incur an extra percentage on top of the set bail amount. Bail can also be posted on behalf of someone else, including by a family member or friend.
Judges are responsible for setting bail. Since many people want to get out of jail immediately (instead of waiting for a day or longer to see a judge for a bail hearing), most jails have standard bail schedules that specify bail amounts for common crimes.
The severity of the crime determines the amount of the bail. Those who are a flight risk or have committed a more serious crime are generally assigned with a higher bail amount. The main purpose of the bail is to grant the freedom of the person being charged until the moment of their trial.
One of the main aspects of bail that many people do not understand is that the fee that is “paid” is not permanent. If he or she does not show up for their court date, the bail is kept by the court. However, if they do show up to court, the money is given back as it was merely an assurance.
If you or a loved one is currently out on bail and are awaiting trial, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. For a free consultation with Rachel Olszewski or Peter Olszewski, contact us today. You can reach us via phone at 570-346-2600.
Rachel D. Olszewski, an attorney at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C., is a dedicated advocate for clients who have suffered unjust harm. Following the legacy of her esteemed family members, Rachel specializes in personal injury, medical malpractice, and criminal defense. She is actively involved in professional associations and serves on the board of the Luzerne County Bar Association Charitable Foundation. Rachel is admitted to practice in Pennsylvania state courts and the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
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