Your Bail Questions Answered

Posted on: 16 March 2021


Getting arrested can be stressful, especially if you have to sit in jail to await your hearing. Bail, however, gives you the ability to leave jail in many cases. This gives you the freedom to prepare for your trial at home. If you would like to learn more about bail bonds, keep reading.

How Much Is Bail?

The amount you pay to be released from jail varies and depends on many factors, including the crime for which you were accused, your criminal history, your work history, and your ties to the community. Typically, the courts only allow you out on bail if they think you will return for your hearing.

Someone who has lots of ties to the community (family, work, friends, church, etc.) and committed a misdemeanor looks like less of a flight risk than someone who is new to town, has an extensive criminal background, and is being accused of a felony.

If you post your own bail, you will be expected to pay the full bail amount to be released from jail. However, many people choose a bail bond agent to pay their bail on their behalf. With a bail bond agent, you don't pay any of your bail, but you do pay a 10 percent fee (ten percent of the total bail amount) to the bail bond agent.

Is Bail Money Returned?

Bail can be expensive, especially if you post it yourself. However, after your hearing, the bail money is returned to you. Of course, you will actually have to show up for your hearing, but as long as you do, even if you are convicted of a crime, your bail money is returned. The courts will likely use some of the bail money to pay for fines and fees before returning the remainder to you.

If you took out a bail bond, all the money is returned to the bail bond agent, so you only have to worry about repaying the 10 percent fee. If you don't attend your hearing, however, the courts will not return the bail money to the bond agent. They may send someone to locate you and send you back to jail, or they may charge your cosigner the full bail amount.

What Happens to Your Collateral?

Whether you're posting bail yourself or getting help from a bond agent, collateral may be helpful. Collateral can be used to help secure bail or a loan with a bail agent. As with any loan, if you don't repay the bail bond, they will seize your collateral. Similarly, if you posted your own collateral with the courts, they will take control of your collateral if you fail to attend your hearing.

Many people use real estate for collateral because it has a high value, but other forms of collateral include cars, boats, expensive jewelry, etc. If you use your residence or only car for collateral, the courts will likely let you continue to use them while awaiting your trial.  

What Can and Can't You Do While on Bail?

If you are released on bail, the courts may set some terms to follow. One common term for anyone out on bail is to not break the law. Even if you commit a minor crime while out on bail, the courts may use it to revoke your bail, forcing you to remain in jail until your hearing. Similarly, if there was an alleged victim of your crime, you cannot contact them.

If you were arrested for driving while under the influence, part of your bail conditions may be avoiding alcohol and attending addiction meetings. The courts may revoke your bail if you fail to comply with any of these conditions.

Many people qualify for bail, but it isn't free. While you will get your bail money back if you follow all rules, you may not have enough to pay the bail in the first place. Luckily, bail bond agents provide affordable loans to help get you out of jail fast. For more information, contact a bail bond agent in your area today.