Making Sense of Bail and Bonds

When an individual is arrested, and in custody for an alleged offense, the individual may be able to post bail or get a bond to avoid spending time in jail. The two words are often used interchangeably but are different. Understanding bail, bonds, and how they are offered and used by the court is helpful when facing charges. The best way to ensure the best chances at reduced or dismissed charges and a favorable outcome to an unfortunate situation that may have adverse long-term effects is by contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney.

What is the Difference Between Bail and Bond?

Although bail and bond are related to release from jail time, they are not the same. Bail is the amount of money the defendant is responsible for paying to get out of jail. On the other hand, bonds are typically handled by a bail bond company that takes collateral to come up with the money to post on the defendant’s behalf to be released.

Bail is not supposed to be a punishment. Instead, it is designed to ensure the defendants abide by the conditions set by the court to return for the hearing and trial. Bail, in essence, is like collateral given to the court after release from jail so that the defendant will return as required for the criminal case. Failure to appear violates the conditions set in the release, and the money will not be returned. If an appearance date is missed and it is unavoidable, an expert criminal defense attorney will present the details to the court, and it is much more likely that the bail money will be returned. Failure to appear will also result in a bail bond being forfeited, so any collateral put up to come up with the money will be lost.

Who Sets the Bail Amount?

A judge will determine how much the bail amount will be, and the amount is based on several factors, including the severity of the offenses, how likely it is that the defendant will commit other crimes if released, and the likelihood of the individual appearing and complying with court orders regarding the trial. Some judges use a bail schedule with a set bail amount for various charges. However, it is critical to know that when arrested for an alleged crime, law enforcement will likely charge the defendant with multiple charges, and every charge has a bail amount. Therefore, if you are charged with three offenses, your bail amount increases with each charge.

Judges may set bail at any amount or follow a bail schedule, but the Eight Amendment in the U.S. Constitution prohibits setting excessive bail amounts. It is also to the judge's discretion to offer bail, which is not required. If you have questions about bail and bonds or are facing criminal charges in San Diego County, contact the Law Offices of Joni Eisenstein. She has the expertise and experience to help you.

Legal Representation During Bail Hearings

After the scary experience of being arrested, defendants have the bail hearing ahead. In a bail hearing, it is essential to present favorable factors that grant bail as an option. Favorable factors that can be presented on the defendant’s behalf are lack of prior criminal history and strong community ties. Only an experienced defense lawyer knows what information will be valuable in the bail hearing and is familiar with current bail policies. Unfavorable factors include high flight risk or likelihood of committing other crimes while out of jail. There are four different outcomes from bail hearings:

Bail Set with Terms – a defendant may post bail and be free from jail in this scenario. The amount can be paid directly or through a bail bond, typically done through a bail bond company.

Personal Bond – Defendants may be released in exchange for signing a bond that states the individual is liable for civil or criminal penalties if they fail to appear.

Release on Own Recognizance – When defendants are released on their own recognizance, the individual must sign a statement that promises they will appear in court and follow other conditions as set in the agreement.

Denial of Bail – high flight risks or risks to the public will result in denial of bail by the judge. Denial of bail means time behind bars, and a criminal defense attorney will be more effective at getting bail set so the defendant has time to go home and get things in order.

If you, or someone you know, is facing criminal charges, it is worth having a professional criminal defense attorney at your side. Immediately following arrest, defense lawyers advocate for clients, working with the court to get bail set and walk alongside clients through the hearings, appearances, and trials. Instead of muddling through such a critical time, contact Attorney Joni K. Eisenstein for a free consultation. Navigating the complexities of California law, bail, bonds, and charges is not something anyone should have to do alone.

If you are on the fence about hiring a defense attorney, stop thinking about it, and do it now

Hiring a criminal defense attorney like Joni Eisenstein can help you go from a place of uncertainty to freedom.