When faced with criminal charges, it's common for folks to worry about whether and how they can post bail. Here are four things a criminal defense attorney will want you to know about the process.
Not Everyone Is Eligible for Bail
Yes, the vast majority of defendants are eligible to post bail. However, there are some circumstances where a court might elect to either not allow bail at all or ask some questions before permitting it.
The most common reason for a judge to deny bail is that a defendant is deemed a flight risk. During the bail hearing, a criminal defense attorney typically attests to several reasons why a client won't flee justice. Occasionally, judges can insist upon stipulations for release, such as electronic monitoring and visits from a court-appointed officer, to ensure a defendant won't flee.
Another reason for a court to withhold bail is that a defendant might be a threat to themselves or someone else. This argument is almost always only made against people who have histories of violence or mental health concerns.
Courts are required to deal with bail requests early in the process. It's common for a judge to hear a bail request toward the end of the arraignment hearing. The arraignment is a period early in the case where the court lays out the charges and determines if the evidence is sufficient to justify continued investigation and a possible trial. If the judge accepts that the case is sufficient, then the defense will usually ask the court to set bail.
Bail payments are made directly to the court. Notably, if you don't have enough money to post bail, the judge may accept a property title as bail. Likewise, there are businesses that provide bail money in the form of personal loans.
Most courthouses have windows where someone can bring bail on behalf of a defendant. If you can't post bail after the hearing, the court may remand you to jail until bail is paid. An officer from the courthouse will notify the jail to release you upon receipt of bail.
Terms of Release
Bail is held as a surety that you'll return to the courthouse for additional hearings and a possible trial. Presuming there's no trouble with your continued participation in the process, the court will return the bail money to whoever posted it. If you fail to appear, the court will deem the money forfeited and keep it. The court will also issue an arrest warrant.
For more information about how a criminal defense attorney can negotiate bail, contact a local law firm.