If you have been arrested for a criminal charge, you will be transported to some type of detention facility. In order to be released from custody, one of two things must happen. You must either dispose of your pending criminal charge or pay a bond in order to be released while your criminal case is pending.
After you are arrested, you will see a magistrate judge who will inform you of your pending charge and let you now what your legal rights are in this situation. The magistrate judge will also set your bond.
A bond is essentially a promise to appear in court. If you are released from custody on a bond, you must appear in court when required to do so. If you do not appear in court, the judge has the authority to take your bond away. If you lose your bond, a warrant will issue for your arrest and you may be taken into custody again. If this occurs, it may be difficult for you to secure another bond, as the court will view you as a potential flight risk.
There are several factors a magistrate judge considers when setting a bond. Since a bond is a promise to appear, the judge will set the bond at an amount high enough to give reasonable assurance that you will appear in court. The judge will also consider the nature of the crime, the circumstances surrounding the commission of the alleged crime and the individual’s prior criminal history. The arrested person’s ability to pay the bond will also be taken into consideration as well as the safety of the community. Lastly, judges are not allowed to use bonds as instruments of oppression.
There are several types of criminal bonds. A complete breakdown can be found below.
Cash bonds are exactly what they sound like. They are bonds that are required to be paid in cash, in full. While cash bonds may be the easiest way to pay a bond, as you are not required to go through any third parties, they are usually not a good option for most people. Many people cannot afford to post cash bonds, as these types of bonds require the full amount paid upfront. However, if you do post a cash bond, your money will be returned to you once the case is successfully disposed of, assuming you did not violate any conditions of your bond.
Surety bonds are probably the most common type of bonds and will require you to go through a third party such as a bondsman or a bonding agency. These types of bonds are good for people who cannot afford to post the full amount of their bond. Surety bonds usually require 10% of the bond amount as a down payment and some small fees as required by the agency you go through. The bondsman puts up the rest of the money. In order to take advantage of this, most bonding agencies will require you to sign over collateral in case something happens and they lose the money they front for the bond. Unlike cash bonds, once your case is properly disposed of, the 10% you put down will not be returned to you, as that is how bonding agencies make their profit.
Personal Recognizance Bonds
Personal Recognizance bonds, more commonly referred to as PR bonds, allow arrested persons to be released without having to pay anything. If you are released on a PR bond, it is entirely your responsibility to show up to court when required to do so. These types of bonds are not common and only used in certain situations. PR bonds are sometimes issued in cases where an individual has been in custody for more than 90 days and their case has not been filed. In these situations, a judge may sometimes grant the PR bond on their own accord or the arrested person will need an attorney to file a Writ of Habeas Corpus on their behalf.
Once you are released on bond, you will receive certain conditions from the court and the bonding agency depending on the type of offense you have been charged with. While you are out on bond, you will need to obey all the conditions set forth. Failure to do so may result in the loss of the bond and being taken into custody again. Before posting bond, it is important for you to understand the different types of bonds and to determine which is best for your situation.
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