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What are the Options for Posting Bail?

Bail Bonds

If you are arrested for a crime, posting bail to be temporarily released from jail is allowed in all but the most serious criminal situations. After the arrest, you are taken to the jail for processing and can remain in jail throughout the time frame of your initial court appearances and eventual trial. For some, that can be a matter of months or even a year or longer. That's why posting bail is such an important process. It allows you to remain free and concentrate on your defense.

Five Ways of Posting Bail

In a majority of criminal jurisdictions around the country, there are five options for posting bail. Remember that anyone can post bail for a defendant - a relative or even a total stranger.

  • Cash bail. This option is not used often, even though it offers some advantages to the person who posts the bail. After a judge looks into the details of the arrest and sets a bail amount, the defendant can pay the entire amount in cash in order to be released from jail. A defendant who shows up for all court appearance, can get the return of the cash bail at the conclusion of the criminal case. In many jurisdictions, that's only possible if the defendant is found not guilty. There are a number of state laws that give courts the right to retain cash paid for bail if the defendant is found guilty in the case.
  • Surety bond. However, if you don't have the total amount of the bail, and can't find a friend or relative who can pay the amount, you can approach a bail bond company to help you get out of jail. The bail bond company is in business with an insurance company called a surety company. The company agrees to pay the full amount of any bond if a defendant fails to appear. The surety bond usually involves a non-refundable 10 percent charge. If the defendant doesn’t show up for a court appearance, the bail bond company is on the hook for the total amount of the bond.
  • Release on Citation. This is reserved for less serious offenses, such as traffic violations. The defendant still must show up in court, but instead of going to jail and having bail set by a judge, the police officer issues a ticket that contains a court date. No bail amount is involved. If the defendant doesn't show up for the court date without first resolving the matter, an arrest warrant will be issued.
  • Released on recognizance (ROR). Particularly in larger cities where jail overcrowding is a serious issue, a judge can decide that the defendant is likely to show up for trial and let him or her out of jail on basically a promise that they will show up for any court dates.
  • Property bond. Not seen much, but most often used in the most serious of arrests when the bail is hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even by utilizing a bail bond company, the 10 percent fee is often beyond what many people can afford. In those cases, defendants or people on their behalf will put up homes as a property bond. The risk here is that if the defendant doesn't show up for a scheduled appearance, the court can seize the property and sell it to pay the bail amount.

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