Tuesday, October 14, 2014

101 Things

An Author Needs to Know

About the Police and the Law


What is the difference between bond and bail?


    The difference between bond and bail is a subtle one.   Defendants who immediately secure their release with money are considered bailed out. Defendants who secure their release with collateral (property or a promise to pay) are bonded out.  The amount needed is set by a judge and is called a bond. Let’s say the judge set your bond at $5000.  You can pay the bond at the bond window at the jail and thus bail yourself out.  If you post your own bond, you get it back when your case is resolved.  Well, you will get back what’s left of it after they deduct all the court fees and fines.  If you don’t have enough money to post bond, you can try a bail bondsman.  He/she will require collateral, and they charge a 10% premium to write the bond, so in your case above you will need to give him/her $500 cash, which you will lose. The bondsman will then pay your bond in full and you will be set free.  Most accept houses, land, and bank accounts.  Most do not accept cars, motorcycles or jewelry.  But there are exceptions.  If you skip out on a bondsman, he will send a bounty hunter after your butt.  I’ve seen situations where grandma’s house was put up for the bond and then the creep grandson skips town.  Or sometimes the church will get involved and post bond for one of its parishioners.  It’s a sad day when the Lord Almighty gets stiffed.

      As I said only a judge can set the bond amount.  In most cases, not to include serious felonies, you will get to appear before a judge within 24 hours of being arrested.  Often that happens while you’re still in the jail and it’s done via a TV hookup.  Bond hearings are held every day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.  

     What happens if you can’t afford to post bond?  You stay in jail until your case is heard.  Sometimes your lawyer can get a bond reduction hearing if the initial bond is high.  You are entitled to reasonable bond.  At that hearing though you will have to convince the judge that you are not a flight risk, that you will appear when summonsed, and you will not be a danger to the community. Oftentimes the court will ask for your passport.  You only have one chance to reduce bond.


Chris said...

Interesting info, Jody, although I don't think it applies here in England. As far as I know we don't have bondsmen; the accused (or a friend/relative) pays bail only. I love reading the Stephanie Plum novels of Janet Evanovich, all about a female bounty hunter who works for a bondsmen. They are great, fast paced and very funny. How true to life, though, I'm not so sure...

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Chris. That's interesting. I'm told that bail conditions are made at court in the UK and if anyone breaks bail then its the police's job to find them. The American system goes back to the wild west and the days of bounty hunters that the UK never had that. I know that bounty hunters here do 'stuff' that's questionable, so I'm sure Stefanie Plum isn't too far off the mark. Love that series. Ranger is my fav. Book 13 was particularly fun when the two men kept passing her back and forth for protection. Lula's pretty high on my list too.

Eliseo Weinstein said...

I never even knew that there was a difference in be bailed out and being bonded out! I was always under the impression that no matter how you got the money, you were bailed/bonded out. It makes more sense now that I understand the real meaning of each term. Thanks for the information and the detailed explanation you had written.

Eliseo Weinstein @ JR's Bail Bonds