The Bail Process can vary somewhat from state to state, however, in most states, the State Legislature is responsible for determining the standard uniform bail schedule for their State. The State's uniform bail schedule sets the bail amount for a specific crime. Set bail amounts for the same crimes can change as their charge level (infraction, misdemeanor or felony) increases or decreases and the defendants eligibility for release changes. Bail is the security that the jail and courts require for an individual to be released from their custody while dealing with their court matter. Bail is a financial guarantee that the defendant will appear to each and every court date.
When a person is arrested and taken to jail, the Magistrate assigns the arrestee a bail amount(s) based on the crime(s) that the person is being accused of committing. Once an arrestee has been fully booked into custody, cleared a background check, fingerprinted and photographed, and has been arraigned before the Magistrate, the final bail amount will be set. This is the amount required for the individual to be released from custody.
There are two ways to post bail for release. The court will accept cash bail which is the entire bail amount in an acceptable form. Some courts have a limit on personal checks and require a cashier's check to ensure the funds are available. Most courts will not accept cash, however some will. When trying to post cash bail it's always recommended to check with the court prior to trying to post cash bail.
In most states, most people use a bail bondsman to post the bail due to the large bail amounts that are set by Magistrates. When someone hires a bail bondsman to post bail, the bail agent is the one who puts up the entire bail amount in the form of a bail bond. The bail bond guarantees that the individual will appear in court on each court date. In return, the bail agent may hold on to collateral to guarantee that the individual will appear in court and secure the bond. The amount Bondsmen require upfront varies by state, however in most states, the department of insurance regulates bail agents to charge no more than 10% of whatever the given bail amount is for an arrestee. Once the completed paperwork is filled out the bail agent will turn the bond into the court and the arrestee will be released from jail shortly there after. After the defendant has appeared to all their court dates and their court matter is resolved, the cash bail or bail bond will be released by the court, at which time your collateral held by the bail bondsman will be returned to you. The 10% payment you paid the bail bondsman on the bond is non-refundable.
In some cases an arrestee will be detained, booked into jail and released on their own recognizance without having to post bail. They will still have to appear in court on their court date however, they will not have to post bond to be released. Nonviolent crimes such as DUI may be eligible for release without bond. Typically, felonies and violent crimes will require bail to be posted for release. Court procedures may prevent some individuals from being eligible for bail based on the crime(s) they allegedly committed.