The Beginner’s Guide to Bail Bonds:
Everything You Need to Know About Bonds
We know how scary an arrest can be, especially if you don’t know how the bail bond process works. We want to guide you through the process. Our team of attorneys has over 100 years of combined experience in bonds and bond hearings. We have worked closely with bondsmen and can assist you in finding the best bondsmen for you. Once you have found a bondsman, we work with them to make sure you are released from jail as quickly as possible.
What is a bond?
A bail bond is an amount of money that the Court orders you to pay to be released from jail after an arrest. In this article, the terms bail bond and money are interchangeable, with the understanding that a “bond” is actually a document that a bondsman provides to the Court promising to pay the amount of money set by the Court.
When a defendant is arrested, occasionally they are released within a few hours, although, oftentimes they are required to stay in jail overnight. The following morning, they appear in Court for their first hearing: a “First Appearance.” During this hearing, the Court sets the conditions of release. One of these conditions may require that the defendant pay money, in the form of a bail bond.
To pay the bail bond and be released from jail, the defendant should contact our team of attorneys, who will coordinate contact with a bondsman. The defendant pays the bondsman up to 10% of the bail bond set by the Court, and the bondsman submits a promissory note to the Court for the full amount of the bond. Through this process, the bondsman agrees to pay the entire bond if the defendant violates the conditions of their release.
Will a defendant always have to pay bond?
No. Each year, judges in each Circuit Court release a schedule of bonds. Each Circuit’s schedule is essentially a menu of bonds and conditions of release for any charge a defendant could be facing. Our attorneys often call the jail’s booking department, on behalf of the client, to determine the “schedule bond” that the client is facing, this expedites their release from jail.
A majority of misdemeanor cases do not require a monetary amount to be released from jail. Instead, the Court may impose other conditions of release. This can include drug and alcohol treatment, mental health evaluations, house arrest, no contact orders, and supervised own recognizance (SOR).
What is the bondsman’s role in my case?
Once a defendant has paid a bondsman, the bondsman remains on a defendant’s case until it is closed. Bondsmen have the power to revoke your bond and send you back to jail if they believe you are at risk of violating the conditions of your release. To maintain trust that our clients comply with the conditions of their release, our team of attorneys is in constant communication with our clients’ bondsmen.
Many of our clients need to travel while out on bond. Bondsmen are often skeptical of defendants traveling when they are out on bond. However, we regularly work with bondsmen to grant our clients permission to travel. Our attorneys establish relationships with our clients’ bondsmen to assure them that our clients will not violate the conditions of their release.
What is a bond hearing?
Sometimes, bonds can be expensive. We might be able to get the Court to reduce your bond before you even pay the bond.
Bond hearings allow us to negotiate with prosecutors and present legal arguments to the Court that oftentimes result in changes to the conditions of our client’s release, including the reduction of our client’s bond. In some cases, we have successfully presented arguments that resulted in the Judge and prosecutor releasing our client on their own recognizance (also known as OR, a promise to appear in Court, when necessary, with no other conditions).
What happens during a bond hearing?
The Court considers two questions during a bond hearing:
- Is the defendant a flight risk?
When evaluating whether or not you are a flight risk, the Court assesses the strength of the case against you, as well as the seriousness of the charges and penalties you are facing. The Court also considers your ties to the community. Typically, a defendant whose family, friends, and source of income is rooted in the community, and is unlikely to go to prison for an extended period of time, is less of a flight-risk than a defendant who isn’t tied to the community and is likely to go to prison for an extended period of time.
- Is the defendant a danger to themself or others?
In determining whether or not you are a danger to yourself or others, the Court looks at any number of factors, including whether the crime you have committed is violent in nature, existing mental health or drug problems as well as any no contact (restraining) orders issued by the Court.
We are here to help.
Having handled tens of thousands of bonds over the years, we know how difficult the bail bond process can be. After you or your loved one has been arrested, we should be your first call. We will help guide you through the process and work to achieve the best possible result for you and your loved ones.
Whether you have a question about your bond or want to discuss your case, contact criminal defense clinics today to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Written by: Michelle Merson, Guy Fronstin, Tiffany Monroy