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What is Misdemeanor Bail?

While the bail bond process may look a bit complex and daunting from the outside looking in, it is actually quite simple.

For example, just as there are different types of criminal offenses, so too are there different levels of bail to cover different offenses. In this post, learn more about misdemeanor bail, when it might be needed and how to obtain it.

Three Types of Offenses

There are three main category of offenses in the criminal justice system. These offenses are as follows:

Infractions. Infractions typically receive fine-based sentences only.

Misdemeanors. Misdemeanors can include a combination of a fine, probation, jail time or prison time, depending on the nature of the offense.

Felonies. Felony offenses are the most serious type and penalties will likely include both fines and a minimum of 12 months in a state prison facility.

What is a Bail Bond?

A bail bond is fundamentally a promise to pay. When a defendant is given the option to post bond, the bond amount is set by the court.

How a defendant can post (pay) bail:

– Pay the amount in full in cash.
– Put up property or assets that are valued in the same amount as the bail amount.
– Buy a bail bond and pay a portion of the bail fee (plus collateral in some cases) to a bail bond seller.

How Bail Bonds Work
If an alleged offender is being held by law enforcement, whether or not bail will be needed will depend on the type of offense and the jurisdiction. Infractions rarely require bail. Bail is more common with misdemeanors and typically required with felonies.

The likelihood of a court ordering bail increases with the perceived threat that the defendant might flee prior to trial. As well, different jurisdictions have leeway to set their own bail price schedules and prerequisites, so this can vary widely from one jurisdiction to the next. The judge is the ultimate authority in bail matters, including requests for no bail or lowered bail.

If a defendant wants to post bail to get out of jail, here is how it works to get a bail bond:

– The presiding judge will set the amount and terms of the bail.
– For misdeamnors, often the jail will have a bail schedule that does not require the defendant to come before a judge unless the alleged offense is more serious.
– The defendant must agree to show up in court (by signing a “promise to appear”) and must also agree to all other court-ordered conditions of receiving bail.
– The defendant can pay the full bail in cash if finances permit.
– For most defendants, the best option is to purchase a bail bond.
– Here, the defendant would put down a portion of the value of the bail as a cash deposit or by using property/assets via a bail bond service.
– Once purchased, the bail bond is binding regardless of the offense level or type.

What Happens Once Bail is Posted
Once bail is posted by or on behalf of the defendant, they are released from jail until the date of their hearing. During this interim period, so long as the defendant abides by all court-ordered requirements, nothing further must be done.

Once the defendant has appeared in court for the hearing and sentencing, the bond period is concluded. At this point, if the defendant paid for the bond with cash in full, the cash is typically refunded in full (the same holds true for collateral assets). If the defendant paid for a bail bond, some portion of those funds may be refunded sans a non-refundable administration fee collected by the bail bond seller.

More About Misdemeanor Bail
Defendants being held on misdemeanor bail are more likely to be given the option for bail and to find the amount of the bail affordable enough to be able to obtain a bail bond. However, it is important to remember that if the defendant fails to show up in court and/or to abide by court-ordered requirements, a warrant may be issued for immediate arrest.

At this point, any and all funds or assets paid towards bail will be considered the property of the court and no refunds will be possible. Therefore, it is important to take bail bonds seriously and to abide by all requirements during the bail bond period.

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