With just as many people having criminal records as having criminal degrees, a staggering number of people are arrested every year. Whether you or a loved one has just been arrested for the first time, navigating the system is a Kafka-esque experience. If you’re wondering “how do bail bonds work”, you’re not alone. Here is a brief overview of what they are and what to expect.
How Bail Works
If this is your first time encountering the concept of bail, it might seem obtuse to you. Bail is money that you’re either giving or promising to a court to tell the judge that the defendant will return to court for a trial. If they don’t show up, the money is forfeited.
After the judge sets the bail, according to the severity of the crime, you’re responsible for posting it. After that, you have to make the court date in order to get your money back. Without a valid excuse, a missed court date means you’re out all of that money or property you posted as bail.
Multiple Ways To Pay
You can put up a “cash bond” when you need to pay. This can be cash or property, with no checks or credit cards accepted. If you don’t have the money, that’s when you’ll seek out a bail bonds provider to pay a percentage of the bail. If bail is set at $10,000, you’ll need to pay around 15% up front. In North Carolina, you can pay a bond via a property. If you have a house that’s worth the value of your bail, you could hand the title over to the court. They may require proof of ownership too.
Some options will consider whether you may not be able to pay and might not require you to. If they’re not a flight risk and the charge is minor enough, the defendant could be ROR or “released on your own recognizance”. There might be other conditions to follow or a requirement not to leave town, but the defendant will walk out that day. You can sign an unsecured appearance bond, kind of like bail, but not be required to pay a down payment. If the defendant doesn’t show up, the whole amount is owed.
If it’s a super minor offense, the defendant could be let out on a citation release. The arrested person will be subject to fines and charges if they don’t appear, but not much more. Judges can impose all kinds of other restrictions but might be lenient on first-time offenders.
Wondering How Do Bail Bonds Work is Common
If you’ve always wanted to know how do bail bonds work, you’re not alone. There are millions of people who have had little to no contact at all with the criminal justice system who find the whole thing very confusing. If you’re considering getting a bail bond professional to help you, check out our guide for why you should work with a company rather than going it alone.