How does bail work?

When a person is arrested, he or she might be released on his or her  “own recognizance.”  This generally only happens for minor offenses, and means that the individual is released as soon as the booking process and paperwork are completed.

However, in most instances, a bail amount is set based on the seriousness of the offense for which the person has been arrested.  The more serious the offense, the higher the bail amount will be.  Each county follows a bail “schedule” that sets the bail amounts for various crimes.  For the most serious crimes, such as certain types of homicide, there is no bail and the person will remain in custody throughout the case.  Unless and until the set bail amount is posted, the person will remain in custody.  If a decision is made by the prosecutor to pursue a criminal complaint, and you have not yet posted bail, you can ask the judge to reduce your bail at your first court appearance.  However, the judge does not have to grant your request.

Chambers Law Firm works with two bail bond companies, both of which are minority and women-owned. These companies can be contacted 24 hours a day and can efficiently and quickly handle bail applications.  The bail companies generally require a 10% non-refundable fee before they will post the bond.  If you work through your attorney, the premium can be reduced to 8%, but again, the money is non-refundable.  In some instances, the bond company might also require a cash deposit or collateral (like a temporary lien on your home or other property) from you or someone who is willing to sign the bail bond agreement before the company will agree to post a bond on you behalf.

Essentially, the purpose of bail is to guarantee your appearance at all proceedings in your case.  If you fail to appear and bail is revoked, the bail bond company must pay the amount of the bail.  You and any others who have signed the bail bond agreement will be liable to the bail bond company to pay back the amount of the forfeited bail.  If you make all of your court appearances, the bail bond is exonerated (i.e., released) and the money is returned to the person or entity who posted the bail.

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