What You Need to Know About the Bail System

Most people assume that when a person gets arrested by law enforcement officers, they automatically get thrown into jail. However, this is not always the case. There are instances wherein someone being charged with an offense can avoid going to jail and walk free. This is possible if the person obtains a bond or posts bail. Aside from looking up a criminal defense attorney in Everett, Washington, here are some of the things that you need to know about how the bail system in the United States works.

Its purposes

In modern legal systems, the primary use of bail is to ensure a person’s release while the trial is pending. In some cases, it can also be used to secure freedom while awaiting the appeal of a conviction. The purposes of this system in criminal cases are: first, to avoid punishing an innocent person who might eventually get acquitted during his trial; and second, to aid them in preparing for their defense.

Who sets the bail

The amount of bail, as well as any other conditions for the person’s release, is set by a judge. This determination is normally based on a specific set of factors during a bail hearing in court. Generally, judges have a wide discretion when it comes to setting bail amounts; they vary from one jurisdiction to another. However, it should be noted that a judge might deny bail altogether or set the amount at an impossibly high level in the event that the defendant appears to be a flight risk or is being charged with a violent crime.

Factors to consider

When considering the amount of bail, the judge usually sets it in relation to factors such as the gravity of the alleged offense, the likelihood that the defendant might flee the court’s jurisdiction, and the chances that they might commit additional crimes when released. Some judges also take into account the strength of the evidence presented against the accused, their character, and even their ability to post bail or secure a bond. On the other hand, the defendant might get more a favorable decision if they lack prior criminal activity.

The role of bail bond companies

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After the bail hearing, the defendant has choices. They can remain in jail to wait for trial, pay the bail in full until the charges against them get resolved at trial, or arrange for a bail bond. The last option is for people whose bail amounts are beyond their financial capabilities. In cases where the defendant does not have the means to pay the bail upfront, they can avail the services of bail bond companies. In this case, the company signs a surety bond. The company agrees to be responsible for the bail amount in full if the defendant forfeits their bail. They should appear during their trial date. In return, the defendant turns over collateral, which is in the form of properties of value such as cars, jewelry, and securities.

The bail procedure for most legal systems is a way innocent people might be able to avoid getting punished for alleged offenses that they might get acquitted from during trial. It is also for defendants to be afforded a way to prove their innocence through an unhampered preparation for their defense.

Adam Torkildson