If you have been taken into custody after being charged with a crime, it is possible that you will be required to pay a fee to get out of jail. This payment is known as bail, and you may be able to get it back at the conclusion of your case. How is bail determined, and how can an attorney help you get your bail amount reduced?
How Is Bail Determined?
Bail is determined based on a number of factors unique to your case. For instance, if you have committed a misdemeanor, your bail will likely be less than if you committed a felony. This is because felonies are considered to be more serious offenses, and letting you go may pose a higher risk to the community. Examples of felonies are rape, murder and arson.
Bail may also be determined by your criminal record. If you have previous convictions or have been charged numerous times in the past, you may pose a greater risk to the community if you are allowed to go free. However, a first-offender may be given a lower bail amount or even be allowed to be released on his or her own recognizance.
Finally, your bail will be determined by the likelihood that you will flee if let out of custody. For instance, if you have connections to other countries that don’t have extradition agreements or tell a judge that you don’t plan on staying, your bail will be higher than normal if you are granted bail at all.
How Can An Attorney Help You Reduce Your Bail?
An attorney can use several tactics in an effort to reduce the amount of your bail. First, it may be possible to argue that you are not a flight risk because you believe in your innocence and look forward to arguing your case. Legal counsel may also establish that you have ties to the community such as a job, a business or a nonprofit organization that you have to oversee.
Bail may be reduced if you can show that there were extenuating circumstances related to either this charge or previous charges. For instance, if you were charged with a murder in the past, your attorney may bring up the fact that it was actually in self-defense but local laws mandated a minimum sentence for using a firearm to commit the crime. This shows that you aren’t likely to be a danger to the community if allowed to go free pending your case.
Conditions May Be Placed on Your Bail
Another way to successfully get bail reduced may be to offer concessions to the court. Those who have passports may offer to turn them in to reduce the risk of being a flight risk prior to a case. Other related concessions may be turning in a drivers license or agreeing not to use a private plane or boat until the case is resolved.
Other conditions may be that you are not allowed to use a computer or a cell phone as it could be used to make contact with your alleged victim. You may also have to agree to drug testing or a curfew to ensure your freedom comes at a reasonable cost. If you are put under a curfew, it may be waived if you need to work late or have another good reason to be out past that time.
If you don’t think that your bail was reasonable based on your crime and criminal history, you should consider asking for a reduction. At a reduction hearing, an attorney may be able to help establish that you are good person who deserves the benefit of the doubt. In some cases, having an individual living at home allows that person to provide for his or her family while reducing the amount taxpayers pay to house and feed that person.
If you are ever in jail or know someone who is in jail, then you might find that the assistance of a bail bondsman is a benefit. This is a person that can often get you released from jail by taking a bail amount instead of the entire bond that the judge sets. Most bondsmen will take at least 10 percent of the total amount before signing the paperwork for your release with many requiring 15 to 30 percent. If you don’t go to court, then the bondsman would be able to do what is needed to find you and take you to jail once again. The entire bond amount would usually then need to be paid back. You can use cash, debit or credit cards and even a property title in most states to post the bail for someone. Keep in mind that if you do end up paying the bond amount, then the property that is used as collateral could be taken.
A bail agent is simply a person who acts as a surety. This is a person who offers a guarantee to the court that the person will show up when expected if released from jail. Most bondsmen will try to work with the person released to help with finding a job, getting counseling or taking classes in order to show that there is an effort being made to stay out of trouble. Some bondsmen will provide counseling for the person released so that there is someone to talk to about the problems that are taking place in life that have led to going to jail.
Some agents will hire a bounty hunter in the event that the person who was released doesn’t go to jail instead of personally seeking the person. There are licensing requirements for each state, some differing in the education that is required and some differing in the insurance requirements. In most states, you don’t need any kind of special degree, but one in criminal justice would be beneficial. Another option would be to take a law enforcement course so that you know of the laws in the state and the proper ways to detain an individual if it’s needed.
The goal of the bondsman and the overall provide freedom for the defendant. The freedom offered can mean the difference between keeping a job, staying in school or even keeping a family together. The bondsman can often be at the jail in a short time once the defendant calls so that the paperwork can be processed as quickly as possible after the bail amount is received. Once the bail is paid with the money that is received from the defendant, family or friends, then the bondsman will declare that the defendant can be released. The bondsman will often have to pay the entire bond amount himself if the defendant skips the court date, which is why bounty hunters are hired and why bondsmen sometimes go to extreme lengths to find the defendant.
A training program is usually offered by each state since there are no specific degrees that need to be held. Once these classes are completed, then the bondsman would be licensed in most instances. However, there are insurance and credit requirements that need to be dealt with as well. Many states require that a bondsman have a minimal credit score and no judgements on the credit. Bondsmen must pass a criminal background check. There are usually yearly examinations that are given along with training classes that are given on a regular basis so that bondsmen know of any changes to the law in the state. There is a healthy job growth in this career field that is predicted in the future. While the salary is about $30,000 it really depends on whether you are in business for yourself or if you work with other agents. If you work for yourself or with a company, you need to have a bank account that you put money into that will be used in the event that you have to pay the bond amount.
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