If you just heard that a loved one was arrested and is now in jail, then you are likely searching for ways to get them released and back home as soon as possible. Then, you’ve likely heard about bail bonds. But, what exactly is a bail bond? There are countless articles online explaining them, but they are usually filled with legal jargon and a bunch of terms and definitions that are difficult to understand. As experienced bail bondsman, we have heard the same questions throughout the years. Today, we want to answer the most common question we receive: “What is a bail bond?”
What is Bail?
After someone is arrested, they are taken by law enforcement to the nearest police station or detention center for booking. Next, the magistrate or judge sets the bail amount – which is dependent on a myriad of circumstances, such as the crime committed, whether or not it was violent, and according to the local schedules and law. In some cases, bail is set immediately, but occasionally the judge must review the case, which delays it a day or so. The defendant can post bail and obtain their release. The money acts as a kind of insurance for the court that the accused will return for all court dates and appearances. If they comply with the bail stipulations and appear for all hearings, once their case is over, they will receive their bail back (if they posted it in the form of cash bail). So, now we know what bail is – let’s take a look at how it came to be in place:
The History of the Bail Bond:
The history of the bail system in the United States has its roots all the way back in the Middle Ages in England. In 1677, parliament passed the Habeas Corpus Act. Besides having an intriguing Latin title, it included provisions establishing that the terms for bail would be set by magistrates. Twelve years later, the English Bill of Rights put restrictions against excessive bail in place. These acts and bills would later inspire the Virginia State Constitution and the Eight Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states:
“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
In the U.S. the Judiciary Act of 1789 determined that all crimes that don’t carry the possibility of the death penalty were subject to bail. Until the 1960’s, the law in the U.S. regarding bail didn’t change much. Then, the Bail Reform Act was created, allowing defendants to be released with as small a cost as possible. People were losing their jobs, homes, and families because they couldn’t pay bail, due to its high cost. Lyndon B. Johnson gave an exemplary speech about the failures of the system. After this act and one later in 1984, our current bail system has remained intact. The need for the bail bond was apparent throughout history. When people were accused of a crime and arrested, they needed to pay to get released. Many people couldn’t pay the full bail amount – so a bondsman would promise security to the court in exchange for charging a much smaller fee for the defendant.
What is a Bail Bond? A Way for People to Get Out of Jail Fast
Now that we know what bail is – the purpose of it, and its history – we can get to the root of the question: “What is a bail bond?” Technically speaking, a bail bond is a written promise signed by the defendant or a co-signer promising to pay the court the full bail amount if the defendant fails to appear for all court dates and appearances. Because most people don’t have the capital to post the full amount, they work with a bail bondsman, who has special licensing and insurance – to post the bond. In return for this service, the agency collects a nonrefundable fee (usually 10-15% of the full bail amount). In some cases, collateral such as jewelry, property, or guarantees from other credit-worthy people may also be required. All the confusing legal stuff aside, the answer to the question: “What is a bail bond?” is: A way for people to get out of jail quickly, without having to come up with a large amount of money. We pride ourselves on offering the fastest service, and during the entire process, we are here to help you. We know that the time immediately after an arrest is tough. We also know that time is of the essence when it comes to criminal cases. Getting released quickly so you can focus on the journey ahead is crucial. We are here to help.