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How Bail Works

Bail works by releasing a defendant in exchange for money that the court holds until all proceedings and trials surrounding the accused person are complete. The court hopes that the defendant will show up for his or her court dates in order to recover the bail.

In many cases, trials can begin weeks or months after an initial arrest, and if not for bail, many people, some of whom might be innocent, would have to wait in jail until their trials began. At the minimum, this can present a financial hardship, as the person would be unable to work. And, the person would also be missing his or her life -- family events, holidays, etc.

When someone is arrested, he or she is first taken to a police station to be booked. When a suspect is booked, or processed, a police officer records information about the suspect (name, address, birthday, appearance) and the alleged crime. The police officer conducts a criminal background check, takes the suspect's fingerprints and mugshot and seizes and inventories any personal property, which will be returned when the suspect is released. The suspect is also checked to see if he or she is intoxicated and usually is allowed to make a phone call. Finally, an officer puts the suspect in a jail cell, usually with other recently booked suspects.

For less serious crimes, a suspect may be allowed to post bail immediately after being booked. Otherwise, the suspect will have to wait (usually less than 48 hours) for a bail hearing where a judge will determine if the accused is eligible for bail and at what cost.

The amount of bail depends on the severity of the crime but is also at the judge's discretion.

A bail bond, also known as a surety bond, can be used for any amount of bail, but it is especially useful when the accused can't afford to pay his or her bail. This type of bail often involves a friend or relative of the accused contacting a bail agent, also known as a bail bondsman. A bail agent is backed by a special type of insurance company called a surety company and pledges to pay the full value of the bond if the accused doesn't appear in court. In return, the bail agent charges his client a 15 percent premium.

If you need a bail bond call (252) 215-1232 for professional bail bonding services 24/hrs day. 7 days a week.

Adapted from source:

Bail Terms

Bail-jumping - the criminal offense of defaulting on one's bail

Bailee - a person who receives personal property from another as a bailment

Bailer/bail agent/bail bondsman - one who provides bail as a surety for a criminal defendant's release

Bail bond - a bond given to a court by a criminal defendant's surety to guarantee that the defendant will duly appear in court in the future and, if the defendant is jailed, to obtain the defendant's release from confinement

Bail commissioner - a judge empowered to hold an emergency hearing to set bail when a hearing cannot be held during regular court hours

Excessive bail - bail that is unreasonably high considering both the offense with which the accused is charged and the risk that the accused will not appear for trial

Personal recognizance - the release of a defendant in a criminal case in which the court takes the defendant's word that he or she will appear for a scheduled matter or when told to appear

Surety - a person who is primarily liable for the payment of another's debt or the performance of another's obligation

Source: Black's Law Dictionary

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