When you are accused of a crime, getting arrested and spending time in jail can be an unfamiliar and frightening experience. Fortunately, since you are legally innocent until proven guilty, in many cases a judge may allow you to be released until your hearing or trial. However, the judge may order that you provide some form of guarantee that you will return to face the charges against you before you can be released from custody. This security is called a Bail Bond, and it must usually be turned over to the court in the form of cash, property, a signature bond, a secured bond through a surety company, or a combination of forms.
Bail bonds are usually set during a formal procedure called a bail hearing. This is when the Judge meets with the accused person (Defendant) and hears information about whether or not it is appropriate to set bail. If certain types of bail bonds are being considered, like a secured bond or property bond, the Judge will consider information about the Defendant’s financial resources and the sources of whatever property or funds will be used as collateral for the bail bond. If anyone else will be posting bail for the Defendant, they are considered as a Surety and their financial situation will also be considered.
If a Surety is involved in providing bail, he must be present at the bail hearing along with the Defendant, and the Judge will inform both of them about their various obligations and responsibilities. It is very important to note that if the Defendant does not fulfill his responsibilities and appear for subsequent hearings and court dates, or if he violates any conditions of his release, the bail may be revoked and forfeited. So it is very important that the Surety has confidence in the Defendant before posting bail.
Once the bail has been set, it is important to understand the various bail options. “Cash” bail may include cash, but it can usually also be paid by certified checks, cashier’ s checks or money orders. It is very important for whoever posts the cash bail to keep the receipt they receive so that they will be able to collect their refund once the terms of the bail have been met. Depending on the amount of cash bail, it may also be necessary for the Defendant or Surety to complete tax forms like IRS Form W-9 as well.