There are procedures and routines that take place when you are bailing someone, or yourself, out of jail. Although the actual required course of action will differ state to state, and from criminal charge to charge, the standard bail bond process can be described in a general way, so everyone can have an understanding of what happens and what to expect when posting bail for you or a loved one.
Following the Arrest
When a person is arrested, they are taken into custody at a city or county jail. A county jail is smaller than a city jail, and process times tend to be longer. If a person is taken to a city jail, it is important to begin the bail process as soon as possible before they have to transfer to a county jail. The transfer will result in more time and a second processing stint before being able to post bail. Once the defendant reaches the jail, they are immediately frisked and checked for weapons, drugs, and paraphernalia. Next, a background check is administered to see if there are any outstanding warrants or previous charges on their record in other counties.
If the background check results show there are no previous offenses, pending charges, or warrants, the bail will be set immediately by a court official or magistrate. If the background check shows that the person is a repeat offender or if they have been arrested for a more serious crime elsewhere, they will most likely not be able to post bail immediately, especially without the help of an experience criminal lawyer. Instead, they will have to wait at least 48 hours for a bail hearing, during which a court official will determine the appropriate amount of bail required to release the defendant from jail. To determine this amount, the judge will take into consideration the defendant’s potential as a flight risk, their criminal history, and the degree of the crime.
After Bail is Set
Once the bail is set for a person, and they have been processed and entered into the jail computer system, they can move forward with the process of posting bail. Posting bail can be done is a variety of ways. For example, a person can pay the entire bond amount in cash, and bail themselves out of jail. They will receive this money back when they have appeared to all their required court dates. One can also use the jail pay phone and contact a friend or family member to pay the bond amount, or hire a bail agency to post bail for them. It is far more common for a person to contact a bail bond company, or have a friend or family member contact a bail agency, in order to post bail. Paying the entire bond amount in cash is not possible for many people, considering the amount. A bond amount can be $20,000 or more, but a bail agency only requires you to put up 10% to 15% of the amount, making it the more popular choice for posting bail.
After a bail agency is hired, or a person uses a cash bond, they are eligible for release; however, a few things still have to happen to complete the process. A bail agency will collect information about the defendant in jail, including names, birthdates, arresting charges, employment history, income, and more. The bail bond company will have the defendant, or the cosigner for the defendant, sign a series of forms, documents, and applications binding them into a contract. They will pay the bail agency 10-15% of the bond amount, as well as, sign and agree to pay the bond amount back if the defendant fails to appear for court or violates court orders. Once this information is collected, the bail bond agent can proceed to contact the jail and let them know that they are posting bail for an inmate. Once this is done, it is up to the jail to release the defendant. This can be as little as 30 minutes, or as long as 6 hours. It depends on the amount of traffic in the jail, and the productivity of the jail staff.