Bail is the money you post with the court to insure that you will show up at the arraignment and all other court proceedings and not disappear until your case is resolved. You will get your money back at the end of trial, unless you “jump, or “skip” bail – in other words, not show up in court as you were required to. In that case, you will forfeit the bail and a warrant for your arrest will be issued.
The amount of bail must be reasonable in light of the crime committed, your previous criminal record, your roots in the area – how long you’ve lived or worked there – and the chances that you will skip bail or commit another crime while out on bail. Bail of 5500,000 for a simple assault case in which the defendant has no previous record and has lived in the area all of his or her life ie clearly unreasonable. But when murder is charged, a very high amount of bail is justified; in fact, many suspected murderers are held without bail.
Although traditionally bail could be posted only in cash, many states now let you use a bank credit card, such as Visa or MasterCard. Bail bond services – which abound near jails, open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – will post your bail for a certain fee, such as 10 percent of the full amount, plus adequate security (such as a house) for the remainder of the bail. If, for example, your bail is set at $10,000, the bond service may charge $1,000 to post the bond. (You don’t get the $1,000 back even if you attend all of the court proceedings as required.) What happens if you don’t show up for your arraignment, trial, or other proceedings? The bond service has to pay $10,000 to the court. It then goes looking for you (or the persona who guaranteed the bond) for full reimbursement, or will levy on the property you put up as security for the balance of the bail.
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