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Everyone has heard the term “bail” at some point in their lives, whether in conversation, a movie, or if it directly affects their life in some way or another. Below is a quick overview of the United States bail system:
What is Bail?
Bail starts when the court decides on a set amount of money that a defendant must pay in order to be released from jail until trial. When and if the defendant shows up for his or her court date, the money that he or she paid for bail is returned to them. The amount of bail money is dependent on both the court and the severity of the crime the defendant is accused of committing: if the defendant is accused of petty theft or public intoxication, the amount of money he or she would have to pay in order to “make bail” would be much less than if they were on trial for say, auto theft or first degree murder.
What Happens if a Person Cannot Make Bail?
It is not uncommon for trials to be scheduled several weeks or several months after a person is first arrested. If the United States bailing system did not exist, all defendants would have to be held in a jail facility until his or her court date. Obviously, a sizable portion of these defendants would be innocent, and many would serve excessive time even if they were guilty.
If a defendant fails to make bail, however, he or she would have to wait in jail. If a person lacks the financial means to make bail on their own, they may seek out a bail bond, which is a loan (with interest) given to them in order to help them make bail. If he or she makes their court date, they will have no problem paying their loan off, assuming they can afford to pay the added interest.
What is Bail Jumping?
Unfortunately, the court can only hope that the money they are holding will be enough of an incentive for the defendant to make his or her court date. While it often is, some defendants will take advantage of the fact that they are not being kept in jail, and will avoid going to court in the hopes of avoiding a possible conviction and a jail sentence; this is colloquially referred to as “bail jumping” or “bail skipping.” If this happens, the person who jumped bail will forfeit the entire amount of money they paid, and a warrant will be issued for their arrest. Additional charges will be filed on top of their earlier crimes, which can result in higher fines and a longer jail sentence.
Unfortunately, bail bondsmen involved in bail jumping scenarios do not receive their money back. However, in some states, the bail bondsmen are allowed to hire bounty hunters who work to locate the bail jumpers in order to recover some of the money that they lost. The standard fee for bounty hunters is 10 percent of the bond money.
This article was written by Robert Tritter, an aspiring lawyer who hopes to help you understand the law better. He writes this on behalf of OK Bail Bonds, your number one choice when looking for a Harris County bail bond. Check out their website today and see how they can help you!
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