Why are Bail Bonds the Most Affordable Option to Get out of Jail?

Why are Bail Bonds the Most Affordable Option to Get out of Jail?

How Bail Works

Most of us, whether we’ve personally been to jail or not, are somewhat familiar with bail. In the movies or on social media. Bail is essentially an expensive method of getting out of jail early if you’re awaiting trial. The crime allegedly committed can set the tone for how much bail you can expect to pay.

The purpose of bail is not to make the government money or even punish the person who’s been arrested. Bail is a way to allow that person freedom until they've been convicted of a crime. Prior to conviction you are considered innocent until proven guilty. During the time an inmate is released from jail the amount of bail posted is held until they’ve returned to court. 

Conditions of Bail

Once a suspect has been released from jail, or “bailed out”, there are still rules that must be followed. If the conditions given for release are violated, it's likely that you'll be re-arrested and returned to jail. These conditions can vary as well based on the suspected crime. If you were involved in a domestic violence dispute for example, then it's likely you’d be required to cease contact with the alleged victim until your court date. These conditions vary based on the charge, but there's also the general sense of “obey the law” or you’ll be re-arrested.

Why is Bail so Expensive

Bail has a massive range, it can be set as low as $50.00 or well into the millions. Each judge gets to set bail using his or her own discretion, but there does tend to be a standard of which they follow. If the crime committed was low risk to others, a judge may choose to set a lower, more attainable amount of bail. However, on the flip side a judge may see someone with a criminal history, or a charge that would endanger the public. These types of charges are more likely to receive high bail amounts, or next to impossible ones racking up into the millions. If the crime is really bad, you might see a judge post no bail at all. This would mean no amount of money could get the inmate out of jail and they would stay in jail until their trial.

The main standards a judge will use to determine a bail amount are:

  • Past criminal record

Looking at the defendant's criminal history will give insight into the likelihood of whether this person will become a repeat offender, or ultimately turn their life around after this experience. 

  • If the defendant is employed

Employment (especially long term employment) can help a judge identify a person's character, if they are a responsible person who can maintain a job, they’re more likely to show up to court after bail.

  • If they have close ties to relatives or the community

Similar to employment, having close ties to family and community is a driving force to keep this person on the right track and shows that they value other things in life aside from the alleged crime.

  • Bail schedule

This is a form of bail that can be posted with the police before you’re even brought to court for the arraignment. The bail schedule is a set amount of bail listed for common crimes. The worse the offense the more expensive it will be on the bail schedule. Bail schedules differ depending on location, crime type, and residency. 

  • Severity of the Crime

While it’s not as cut and dry as the bail schedule, a judge will take into account the severity of the crime committed. Higher classed offenses such as felonies tend to be much higher than that of a misdemeanor or less dangerous crime.

  • Overall risk level

A judge will look at the defendant’s life, crime history and employment along with many other aspects to assess the overall risk level of releasing the defendant from jail. The safety of the public and likelihood of repeated crime is also taken into account.

How can a Bail Bondsman help?

With bail being so expensive (the majority of Americans don’t have $2,000-$50,000 just lying around at home) bail bondsmans have become a convenient system that provides a way to secure bail without having all that money upfront, selling the family car, or signing a new mortgage. Using a bail bondsman only costs you a fraction of the total cost. Most bail bondsmen expect around 10% of your money, while they put up the remaining 90%. They do keep the 10% paid regardless of whether the defendant is deemed innocent or guilty at the conclusion of the trial, so be prepared for that! This money goes towards covering the overhead costs of their company and other business expenses.

If this is your first encounter with the court system, having a bail bondsman that is knowledgeable with the legal system is a real advantage as you begin to navigate posting bail for a loved one.