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What Are Bail Bonds? The 5 Most Important Facts You Need to Know

“Bail bonds” is a common term you’ll hear when talking about the U.S. justice system. Whether you need to help a loved one out of a tight situation or you’re just curious about how bail bonds work, the following facts will give you some insight into bail bonds.

Bail Has a Specific Purpose

Bail is essentially collateral. A court requires a defendant to post bail to ensure that individual returns at a later date. If the defendant is unwilling or unable to post bail, he or she remains in jail.

As is the case with any kind of collateral, the funds are returned if the defendant holds up his or her part of the agreement. This involves showing up to all scheduled court appearances.

Judges Set the Bail

A judge will determine bail by looking at numerous factors, including the defendant’s history, the severity of the crime, and the individual’s flight risk, which is the risk of them fleeing authorities.

What prevents a judge from coming up with an unfairly high bail amount? The 8th Amendment – the same amendment that prohibits cruel and unusual punishments – protects defendants from excessive bail amounts.

Sometimes There Is No Set Bail

When it comes to relatively minor crimes or first-time offenses, a judge might not even set a bail amount. Instead, the defendant is released on own recognizance. This will likely just involve signing a written agreement to report back to court on a scheduled date. There’s no exchange of collateral with this type of arrangement, but the defendant would be wise not to abuse the court’s good will or take this stroke of luck for granted.

Sometimes Bail Comes With Additional Conditions

While sometimes a defendant is simply responsible for returning to court, a judge can add on further conditions. These conditions often relate to the case at hand. For example, a defendant who is in court due to unruly, drunken behavior might be required to avoid drugs or alcohol while awaiting his next court appearance. Other conditions might involve following a curfew or travel restrictions. If these conditions are broken, consequences will follow.

There Are Many Ways to Post Bail

Bail doesn’t always take the form of cash. In certain situations, property can also be used as collateral. Another option is the use of a surety bond. This is when a third party, such as Patriot Bail Bonds, offers to cover the bail in exchange for a premium. This is especially beneficial for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to pay the full bail expense.

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