Bail was introduced in the U.S. about a decade after independence in 1776. The Judiciary Act was established in 1789 in the States as the first official Bail law, and since then, the criminal justice system has considered bail, as an indispensable part to uphold justice and prevent overcrowding in jails.
If you or a loved one has been arrested and is now facing the daunting reality of being incarcerated, bail is probably the fastest and only way to get you out of jail before the trial. However, in such distressing moments, do you know who holds the power to secure your release? Is it a 24-hour bail bondsman, your family members, or an attorney? Delve in to find out who exactly can bail you out of jail.
Who is Eligible to Post Your Bail?
Before we delve into who is eligible to post bail, let’s overview the factors judges consider when determining a bail amount. They consider the nature and severity of the crime, the criminal history of the defendant, community ties, public safety, the potential of fleeing before trial, and the defendant’s financial capacity, before setting the bail amount. In addition, the court also determines the eligibility of bail based on factors including:
- Defendants’ character and reputation.
- Safety concerns for victims or witnesses related to the crime.
- Probability of defendants attending scheduled court proceedings.
- Defendants’ capability to adhere to court orders.
- Presence of substance abuse or mental health issues in defendants.
- Presentation of evidence showcasing the defendant’s innocence or vulnerabilities in the case.
If you are eligible for the bail, the following people can post your bail:
- Family Members and Close Friends:
Individuals aged 18 or above, such as friends, family members, in-laws, or relatives, can cosign bail with the defendant. Their eligibility hinges on their familiarity with the defendant and their financial capability to meet bail requirements. It’s a significant commitment as it may involve securing a loan, tapping into personal savings, or leveraging assets, which can potentially be forfeited if the defendant fails to appear in court.
- Bail Bond Agents (Bail Bondsmen):
Licensed bail bond agents can also offer financing to secure a defendant’s release without the need for the entire bail amount. They work by submitting a bail bond to the court, committing to cover the total bail if the defendant defaults. However, collateral might be necessary, and failure to adhere to pretrial obligations could result in forfeiture of the collateral. Typically, a bail bond company charges a non-refundable premium, averaging around 15% of the bail amount.
- The Defendants Themselves:
Defendants can opt for self-bail if they choose to forgo external help. This involves meeting specific criteria, such as having a local address, affording the bail amount, and posing a low flight risk. Eligibility for self-bail is determined by the judge, who considers factors like flight risk and the nature of the crime. However, self-posting cash bail can be financially straining, and violations of court orders may lead to forfeiture of bail money.
Who Can’t Bail You Out?
- Individuals with Criminal Records
- Witnesses or Victims