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What is Bail and Do You Get Bail Money Back

Bail options after being arrested

When someone is placed under arrest there will be a couple things that will happen. First, they will be handcuffed, searched, and brought back to the police station of the arresting police/sheriff’s department. From there they will be required to complete the booking process which includes answering questions about their mental health, their address, parents’ info, social security as well as take booking photos and fingerprints – See all about fingerprints here. Once the booking process is completed, the Officer in Charge (OIC) will contact a Clerk Magistrate (bail clerk) who will make a decision on one of three options; Personal Recognizance (PR), Bail, and Hold Without Bail.

1 . Released on personal recognizance.

When someone is released on personal recognizance, it means that the bail clerk is allowing the individual the responsibility to appear in court on their own behalf. Bail clerks will make the determination based off the arrestee’s criminal history, crime severity, and ties to the community. In most states there is a relatively small fee associated with the bail clerk coming out to release the individual. The bail fee itself will not be given back to the arrestee at any point. Numerous states are testing out different post arrest procedures such as domestic arrests requiring an individual to be held for a minimum of six (6) hours before they can be released( More Detail on this topic can be found here!)

2 . Bail set on the arrestee.

When determining the circumstances and the history of the arrestee, the bail clerk can place a bail amount on the defendant. The more severe the crime paired with a violent criminal history will result in a higher bail being set. A defendant with serious charges such as home invasion may have their bail set to $100,000 dollars, while another defendant who shoplifted a phone from the Apple store may have a $500 bail. When bail is set from a clerk magistrate, prior to being arraigned in court, cash and some cash websites such as Venmo are usually the only acceptable forms of payment. Checks, credit cards and debit cards could be fraudulent and will not be accepted. This means that if bail is set at $100,000 dollars, the defendant must have someone bring the money (in cash as Venmo have transfer limits) to the police department. This is often tricky as not only is that a lot of cash to carry, but bail is set when the courts are closed. If the courts are closed, it means the banks usually are too. As a result, defendants with high bails generally find themselves staying in custody until the next court date where they are arraigned.

3 . Hold The arrestee without bail

When the arrestee is held without bail, this means that they will not be released from police custody until they are brought forth to the court on the next court day. If the arrestee was arrested on a Friday night, then they will be in jail until the next court date on Monday morning. Depending on the state and police department, the arrestee may be transported to a holding facility (Jail, correctional facility) until court is in session. Juveniles are treated a little differently in most states and have a higher standard when determining to hold a juvenile without bail. If a juvenile is held without bail, they will almost certainly be transported to a specialized juvenile holding facility to await court. In many states crimes such as restraining/harassment order violations or default warrants (defendant didn’t show up to court the first time) will have automatic holds placed on the arrestee.

Bail After Being Arraigned in Court

Bail After being arraigned in court

Bail After Being Arraigned in Court

When a defendant is brought to court after being arrested, they will be what is called arraigned. The defendant will be appointed an attorney if they don’t have their own, go over the charges, go over any restrictions such as the defendant remaining drug/alcohol free and any restraining/no-contact orders. During this discussion the judge will implement a bail on the defendant or allow them to leave on their personal recognizance. The bail standards are the same as with the clerk magistrate, by factoring the severity of the crime, their history and community ties. A major difference is that a judge has mor authority to release individuals who violate restraining orders and warrants and many of other issues.

What is a Dangerous Hearing?

A dangerous hearing is when the prosecution team request the defendant be held with no bail for a period of 120 days or more. If the dangerousness hearing is accepted, a court date will be set where they will have a “mini” trial. In the meantime, the defendant would be held until such date. During this trial, the judge will listen to witnesses, victims, defendant, and the defense and prosecution team. The restrictions of what is allowed during a dangerous hearing is far less than that of an actual trial in front of a jury. The defense will bring up the defendant’s family, their job, history, flaws in the case, and why they should not be held. Conversely, the prosecution will point out the violence or severity of the crime, the defendant’s history, and any other reason the defendant should be held.

Do You Get Bail Money Back?

Yes, but there are important rules that must be adhered too. Bail money is held by the courts until the case is over or the defendant is exonerated during the process. This means that if the defendant decides that they do not want to show up to their court dates, then their bail will be forfeited. For most crimes, the idea of the perfect bail amount is to make it high enough that missing the court will be too expensive. If the defendant shows up to all of the court dates or has an excused absence by a judge, the bail money (Absent any fees) will be returned. This will include guilty findings, non-guilty findings and dismissed cases. It is also important to note that even if the case is later appealed, the money should be returned as the appeal process can take years.

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By Branden

Branden is a Police Lieutenant who has investigated numerous crimes. He has written and executed multiple search warrants, conducted various protective sweeps, pat frisks and exit orders. He has been involved in numerous police vehicle chases, fights, disturbances, foot pursuits, suspect/hostage negotiations and felony stops. He is trained with an assortment of weapons. He has spoken with countless victims, witnesses and suspects and is using his experience to better protect our communities and loved ones by sharing his knowledge through his writings.

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