Cash bail is a court-determined fee that a defendant pays to await trial out of jail.
Here’s how bail usually works:
You’ve been arrested, taken to jail, fingerprinted and processed.
Within 24 to 48 hours, you will have an initial hearing known as an arraignment, where a judge will formally present the charges against you, and you will plead innocent or guilty. You will likely plead not guilty in most circumstances.
- Then the judge either grants bail and sets the amount; 2. releases you on your own recognizance without a fee; or 3. denies you bail.
Bail is usually denied if a defendant is deemed a flight risk or a danger to the community.
If you get bail, you have three choices:
- Pay the amount in full and get out of jail.
- Pay nothing and await trial in custody.
- Secure a bail bond and get out of jail. In this case, you’ll pay a private agent known as a bondsman a portion of the amount, usually 10 percent and collateral such as a home or jewelry to cover the balance. The fee is non-refundable.
When defendants can’t make bail, they are more likely to plead guilty, and the plea bargains they’re offered are more severe.
Research also suggests that requiring people to pay bail can lead to more criminal behavior: A 2016 study of pretrial detainees held on misdemeanor charges in Harris Country, Texas, found that defendants who remained in jail were more likely to commit another crime than those who were released.
Anton Vialtsin, Esq.
LAWSTACHE™ LAW FIRM | Criminal Defense and Business Law
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