Bail Denial or Revocation

The subject of bail is addressed by the Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution, providing that “excessive bail shall not be required.” This, however, does not mean that it is absolutely guaranteed in every case, and if bail is granted it may be revoked based upon the actions of the defendant.

Reasons for Denial

One of the primary purposes of bail is to ensure the defendant shows up for the court proceedings initiated as a result of the alleged offense. If the judge has any reason to believe the accused poses a flight risk, bail will likely be denied. A history of not appearing for a scheduled court date by the defendant or some comments or a disrespectful attitude toward the court will be factors ion the judge’s decision. Other reasons bail may be denied include:
• The crime the individual is accused of is serious. A person facing many years of incarceration or the death penalty is often denied bail
• The person was already on probation or parole. Judges are often unsympathetic to someone who shows an inability to stay out of trouble.
• The person is not a US citizen. Other than the risk of flight to return to one’s native country, there may be an immigration hold on a non-citizen.
• The person poses a danger to the community if he or she remains free.

Reasons for Revocation

A guiding principle regarding bail is that the court has the inherent power to protect its processes and the community. In the initial determination of the defendant’s suitability for bail, the judge established terms and conditions. Violating any of these is sufficient cause to revoke bail. The most common mistakes made by those out on bail are missing a court date and being arrested for a subsequent offense. Additionally, any hint of attempts to influence or intimidate a potential witness in the pending case will be met with harshly.

Other conditions of bail the judge may impose based on the circumstances of the case and that must be adhered to may be:
• No contact with the alleged victim
• Refrain from the use of alcohol or illegal drug with possible regular testing
• Limitations on driving
• Regular reporting to a specified official

Additionally, the judge may reconsider the original bail order in light of new information or changed circumstances.

Hearing

A defendant who has his or her bail revoked is entitled to a hearing on the matter. Depending on the nature of the violation, the time leading up to the hearing may be spent incarcerated or out of custody. The accused may be represented by counsel at the hearing where the prosecution will have a varying burden of proof based on the jurisdiction, either federal or state court, and again based on the specifics surrounding the violation.

Bond Forfeiture

In addition to facing bail revocation and jail time, it is common for the court to seek forfeiture of the entire bail bond amount once a defendant’s bail is revoked.

How the Bail Process Works and Getting Out of Jail After an Arrest

 

If you are ever arrested and want to spend the least amount of time possible in jail, the best possible thing to do is to post bail. Bail is generally an amount of money or a piece of property that is given to a court in order to promise that you will return there on your court date.

 

How Much Will the Bail Be

As soon as you get to jail, bail will probably be one of the first things on your mind. You will want to know how much it is and who to give it to so that you can leave jail as quickly as possible. Some offenses require a bail hearing, this will cause a lengthy stay in jail as judges only work during standard business hours and can not see you until they come in for the day. Fortunately, in a great majority of cases, there will be a chart for the bail amount of common offenses and there will be no need to see a judge.

 

Posting Bail

Once the bail is set, you can either pay the amount in cash, use an equivalent amount of property equal to your bail amount as collateral, enroll the services of a bail bondsman, or be released on your own recognizance. Of all of those options being released on your own recognizance is the most desirable, but is not always an available option and is often at the discretion of a judge. If you do not have the money or property equivalent to the bail amount then your best bet is to obtain a bond. A bond is basically a promise to pay your bail if you do not show up. Usually 10% of the bail amount is required up front in order to obtain a bond.

Out On Bail? What You Can and Can’t Do

If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime, the court may require bail in order to be released from jail. Bail is a monetary amount that you deposit with the court to ensure them that you will return for your court hearing. The full amount of bail can be posted in cash, or you can work with a bail bond agent to pay bail for a set fee. For the fee received, the bail bondsman agrees to pay the court the remainder of the set bail if you fail to appear in court.

The amount of money required by the court for bail will vary depending on the nature of the accused crime and the level of certainty the court has that you will return for your court appearance. If the court has specific concerns about your case, they may impose other, non-monetary conditions for what you can and can’t do while out on bail. Release conditions will vary by state and by circumstance, but here are some of the more common release conditions you may encounter:

1. Obey All Laws – Probably the most common condition to release is that the suspect must obey all laws. This may seem to be commonsense, but it is necessary to remember at all times not to put yourself in a situation where you could come to the attention of the police.

2. Limit Travel – the court may limit the suspect’s travel by requiring them to surrender a passport or wear an electronic tracking device. Even if such restrictive conditions are not imposed, it is common to forbid the suspect from leaving the state until their court appearance. Depending on the offense, the court may also impose a curfew on the suspect. You will need to get both the court and your bail bondsman’s permission to deviate from any of these restrictions on travel

3. No Contact With the Victim or Witnesses – this type of condition is often imposed when the alleged crime was against another person; for example assault or domestic violence. The court can impose this condition even if the alleged victim (perhaps a family member or friend) requests them not to prescribe the condition. While it may be tempting to ignore the no contact condition, it is not a good idea to do so, as the ramifications if you violate the condition can be steep.

4. Obtain Medical Treatment – if the defendant is found to have a drug or alcohol problem, the court may require them to attend treatment while out on bail. There may also be circumstances where the court finds it necessary to require medical or psychological counseling or testing during the bail term. If any of these conditions is required, do not avoid seeking the treatment.

It is very important that the conditions to release that are set by the court are followed. If they aren’t, the court may revoke bail and return you to jail. Any fee or premium paid to your bail bondsman is forfeited. Any collateral posted by your or a friend or family member is also in jeopardy. For these reasons, It is in everyone’s best interest that the conditions to release imposed by the court be adhered to while out on bail.

Innocent Until Proven Guilty?

We’ve heard the term “guilty until proven innocent” many times. However, few stop to consider what this phrase means, exactly. It’s the cornerstone of the American legal system, and it allows people the chance to prove their innocence in front of a jury of their peers. Whether you’ve recently been accused of a crime or just want to keep your mind open to the facts of the law, understanding the ins and outs of this concept is important to help protect your rights.

When you are arrested for a crime, you are being charged. While it may require you to spend some time in jail, there is often the chance for you to make bail and be released. Since you have not yet been proven guilty and innocence must be presumed, this means that a bail bondsman can help you be released with the promise you’ll show up for court. Bondsman understand all too well that many in jail are innocent of their crimes, and they put their faith in them to arrive at their court date in order to prove their case.

During the trial, the defendant has the chance to present a strong case to the judge to prove that they are innocent of the crimes for which they are being charged or at least have them reduced. One of the most common ways to do so is to provide an alibi that can account for your whereabouts during the time of the alleged crime. For example, if you were at the movies with friends at the time a fire was set that you are accused of starting, your friends can provide testimony. You could even request surveillance footage near the theater to further strengthen your case.

In the event you are being charged with battery or some other type of violence, self defense is another common defense. This means that the victim in fact provoked the violent act by inflicting or intending to inflict harm on you. You have the right to defend yourself in this situation.

While less common, insanity is another defense sometimes used. This means that the defendant was not in the right mental capacity to be capable of making sane decisions at the time of the crime. However, if the defendant doesn’t have a history or mental disease, this can be a tough case to prove.

We all make mistakes, and that’s what helps us learn. Sometimes, those mistakes fall outside of the law. If you’ve been charged with a crime, the days, weeks, and months ahead will be stressful. After all, you’ll be facing judges and prosecutors whose primary goal is to show you did something wrong and punish you.

However, by taking the time to understand the concept of “innocent until proven guilty,” you have a better grasp of how the laws can work in your favor as well as how to present your case in such a way to support your innocence or reduce your charges. In the meantime, a bail bondsman can prove to be a welcomed ally during this tough time. They can help you get out of jail in order to sort everything out before your court date in order to best prove your innocence.

What It Means to Co-Sign A Bail Bond

Family members and close friends of an alleged criminal may be asked to co-sign a bail bond. The co-signed bail bond is an agreement between the co-signer, bail bondsman, and the individual under arrest. The co-signer assumes full responsibility for the defendant released from jail. A co-signer’s potential financial obligations remain in place until the case against the accused in closed.

Initial Fees

The co-signer of the bail bond contract is often the same person who pays the bail bond company’s fees for service. Most bail bond firms charge 10 percent of the bail amount established by the court. The fee amount may vary depending upon state laws. Once the defendant is released, the bail bond fee is non-refundable.

Liability Concerns

The co-signer of bail bond promises the court that the accused will appear as required at court-scheduled hearing dates. If the accused skirts this responsibility, the bail bond firm pledges to the court that it will pay the bond in full if the defendant does not appear within the state-determined time period.

Co-Signer’s Miscellaneous Expenses

The co-signer is also financially responsible for other expenses if the accused does not fulfill his or her obligations. For instance, collect calls made from jail to the bond firm are charged to the co-signer. If the defendant remains at large, the bail bondsman may engage a bounty hunter and charge this expense to the co-signer. If settling the debt or court case spans more than 12 months, the bail bond firm may also charge the co-signed additional fees to extend the contract if state laws allow.

Recourse

A co-signer’s responsibilities are outlined in the original contractual agreement with the bail bond firm. Although the co-signer might not anticipate the consequences of helping a friend or family member, the financial costs of co-signing the bail can have a lasting negative impact.

A co-signer may be able to demand reimbursement for expenses and fees related to the bail bond contract. Unfortunately, the accused’s financial situation may be poor. A law suit intended to recover these fees may fail.

The bail bond firm can decide to demand payment of the bond in full from the co-signer if the accused does not appear. This happens because the co-signer made a contractual agreement with the bail bondsman.

Liquidation of Collateral

If the accused is not returned to jail after a failure to appear in court, the bail bond company can decide to liquidate posted collateral assets of the co-signer. For instance, if the co-signer posted real estate as collateral, the bond firm will foreclose on the property. The real estate will then be sold to raise the money promised to the bail company.

Conclusion

A bail bond is not a regular consumer loan. The right to post bail is a Constitutional right. The alleged criminal’s failure to uphold his or her legal and financial responsibilities can be severe. Co-signers, as part of the process, also assume responsibilities for the accused.

The co-signer agrees to make sure that the defendant appears on his or her court appearance dates. If the accused does not appear, then the co-signer is held responsible for this failure. It is the co-signer’s responsibility to find the accused and bring him back to the court or pay the bond in full as a means to resolving the defendant’s missteps. The bail bond firm acted in good faith and performed promised services for the accused but must be paid in the event he or she skips bail.

The Benefits Of Quickly Obtaining Bail

It is not uncommon for people to make a mistake and find themselves being arrested. This is often a new experience, and the process can be very confusing. The one thing everyone seems to have in common is the desire to not spend any time in jail. In many cases, jail time can be avoided by paying a bail amount set by a court. Should someone not be able to afford the bail amount, a bail bondsman can be the key to avoiding time in jail. There are a number of reasons to get bail as soon as possible.

WHAT IS BAIL?
Property or money provided to a court for release of a person charged with a crime is known as bail. The reason for it is to assure a person charged with a crime returns to court for trial. The money used for bail is often given back to the provider upon conclusion of a trial. This happens if a person is found guilty or innocent when the trial is concluded. Should a person not return to the court for their trial, the court will keep the money or property provided for bail

KEEPING A JOB
A person may need the services of a bail bondsman to post bail as soon as possible. They may be motivated to do this so they can keep their job. In many cases, a person is not in a position to take time away from their work. Being able to maintain a steady income is essential for a number of reasons. As a case progresses, a person may need to pay legal fees and other things associated with their case. Keeping a job means people will be able to keep a home and maintain their life. This will reduce the stress involved with handling the trial’s proceedings.

PRIVACY
When people are charged with a crime, they don’t want it to take over their life. It’s beneficial to arrange bail immediately and start working on the case while not incarcerated. Spending time in jail can cause harm to a person’s reputation. This can happen even if they are found innocent of the crimes charged against them.

FAMILY TENSION
Having a family member charged with a crime is a situation that will impact the entire family. It will cause tension that increases when a person has to spend time in jail. Getting released on bail quickly will minimize the emotional impact on a family when one of its members is arrested. It is much easier to have the family member home then worry about them being locked up with criminals.

BUILDING A DEFENSE
When a person is arrested, they will want to be out on bail quickly so they can start working with a lawyer to build their legal defense. It is much easier for someone to visit an attorney’s office than for the attorney to deal with seeing someone in prison. A person will be able to explain the circumstances of the arrest and provide as many facts as possible for their defense. This could lead to positive evidence collection and more.

AVOID ARREST
A person does not have to be arrested for them to have to pay a bail amount. There are a number of things a person can be charged with where paying bail will end the situation. These are called preset bail amounts. In some cases, it is a way for a person to avoid jail time as well as being arrested.

All About Bail Collateral

Bail bonds are helpful because they allow someone charged with a crime to get out of jail. They are also complex and sometimes involve unfamiliar concepts. Bail collateral is something that might seem confusing at first. It is important to understand what bail collateral is and how it works.

Understanding Bail Collateral

If you want to post bail for someone in jail, then the most straightforward way is to pay cash to a bail bondsman. Some bail amounts will be much more than the amount of cash a person has or can raise. This is where bail collateral comes into play. The collateral is any physical item or asset that you own. You are essentially going to use the asset to secure the bail bond. This is a very common practice.

Why You Need Bail Collateral

The reality is that bail collateral is needed for several reasons. The first is that many people simply cannot quickly withdrawal any amount of cash in order to get a loved one out of jail. A second reason is that some bail amounts are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The collateral allows bail bond agents to get a real and tangible item that can definitely be sold if something goes wrong. It allows agents to safely post bonds with the court and gives defendants without cash a way to get out of jail.

Items That Can Be Used As Bail Collateral

The range of items that can be used as bail collateral is very wide. There are just a few basic rules. The first and most important is that the item has to have real monetary value. The value cannot be in question, too low or sentimental. A second requirement is that you must fully own the item. There cannot be liens or pending payments due on the item. The third requirement is that the bail bond agency agrees to accept the collateral. Some of the most common items used are cars, houses, jewelry and exceptionally valuable electronics.

How the Process Works

The process of using bail collateral is relatively simple. You must get the items and show them to the bail bond agency. You must then show paperwork to prove ownership of larger items like automobiles. The agency usually wants the collateral assets to total around 150 percent of the total amount of the bond. This is to cover unexpected costs or depreciation. You will then have to give the pink slip, title or deed of the collateral to the bail bondsman. If the item is small like electronics or jewelry, then the agent will likely just take it and hold it. If everything goes well, then you will get the collateral back when the case is settled.

When the Collateral Will Be Returned

The collateral will be returned at the end of the defendant’s trial. The trial must end completely with everything resolved. The person must have shown up for all appearances. You must pay off any pending fees or charges in full to the bail bond agency. You will then generally get the collateral back in anywhere from a few business days to a week after resolution. If the defendant fled and did not complete the trial, then the bail bond agency has the right to seize and sell the collateral to pay for the bond and any associated damages.

Pleading No Contest

What It Means

If you haven’t experienced the situation of pleading no contest, you’re still probably familiar with the term. Within the ubiquitous amount of police procedure and crime-centered programs on TV and in the movies, the phrase is a main ingredient. To enter a plea of no contest is to admit to no guilt for a particular crime. However, it’s not that simple.

The Full Impact

Alternatively referred to as an Alford plea or nolo contendere, a no-contest plea may not be an admission of guilt by the defendant, but it translates that the court will consider the person guilty. As such, the consequences will bear the same weight. There are important factors to note in the explanation of this type of plea. First, for one to be able to employ it is a privilege. It isn’t a right to which people are automatically entitled. Therefore, the court must consent to accept the plea. This involves specifics that a judge will use as determinants to accept or reject a plea of no contest:

  • Does the defendant have adequate legal representation
  • Has the charged person entered into the plea voluntarily with complete understanding of it
  • If there are co-defendants, the judge will weigh the pleading defendant’s degree of culpability
  • Does the defendant fully understand the alleged charges and the punitive ramifications of them
  • Is the person answering before the court aware that the court views no contest as a guilty plea despite no admission of guilt

It’s mandatory for the judge to formally discuss such points with the defendant in open court. An acceptance of plea cannot be granted otherwise. As with most things, there are pros and cons to the choice of a nolo contendere plea.

Advantages

The most obvious advantage to pleading no contest is the avoidance of a public trial. There may be certain embarrassing or self-incriminating facts that the defendant would rather not have aired in the light of open court.
Economics could be another favorable factor to consider. Criminal trials, known for uncertain lengths, can send relative costs soaring.

One critical benefit speaks directly to legal procedure. The defendant’s plea may not be employed in a civil suit for the same offense because it is not an admission of guilt.

Disadvantages

The major disadvantage of a no-contest plea is its very definition. Because there’s no admission of guilt on the defendant’s part, yet the court deems the defendant guilty, the convicted person is often left in a bog of misunderstanding. This has become the basis for many instances of erroneous interpretation of the procedure overall.

Another downside is that the defendant is given nothing in return for choosing this type of plea. In no way is a person’s sentence ameliorated by opting to forgo the time and expense of a jury trial. The full range of penalties commensurate to the precise crime is at the court’s disposal.

The bottom line is that no one should enter into any kind of plea without proper legal counsel.

Double Jeopardy Law

Legal jeopardy is being exposed to the danger of a conviction and punishment in a court of law. Double jeopardy is a defense that can be raised in a criminal prosecution. The general rule of double jeopardy bars a second prosecution for the same offense. Courts have carved out many exceptions to this fundamental rule of constitutional law, but in Monge vs. California, the U.S. Supreme Court said that double jeopardy can attach in three circumstances. First, a person can’t be prosecuted a second time after they were found not guilty of the same offense. They can’t be prosecuted for that same offense again either if they were already found guilty. Third, there can’t be multiple punishments for the same offense.

Origin of double jeopardy

The roots of the notion of double jeopardy are so deep that it’s origin isn’t completely clear. It may have came over on the Mayflower. The charter of liberties for the Massachusetts Bay Colony specifically addressed it in 1641. That charter provided the framework for the Bill of Rights. Both before and after independence, colonies recognized or adopted the prohibition through their case law in the courts. It was made part of the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1791 where it was stated that “nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” It remains a fundamental premise of American law nearly 225 years later.

How double jeopardy is used today

The two basic rules involving double jeopardy in a court of competent jurisdiction involve when it attaches. In a bench trial when a judge hears all of the evidence and determines guilt or innocence, jeopardy attaches when the first witness is sworn in. In a jury trial, it attaches whe2n the jury is sworn in. Double jeopardy doesn’t stop a federal prosecution after a not guilty verdict in a state prosecution. It doesn’t operate as a bar to another trial if a defendant appeals a conviction successfully, but prevailing in an appeal on a lesser charge like second degree murder would preclude a new trial on a new charge of first degree murder. Should an appellate court find that a conviction was based on insufficient evidence, another prosecution isn’t permitted. Fifth Amendment double jeopardy protection doesn’t apply in the case of a deadlocked jury, nor does it apply in the case of a mistrial if the defendant moved or consented to it, since the trial is deemed to have had no legal effect and invalid. Another trial might not be permitted if the defendant objected to the mistrial or did not otherwise consent to it. Another prosecution won’t be permitted if the mistrial was declared as a result of prosecutorial or judicial misconduct.

Since the purpose of the Fifth Amendment protection against double jeopardy is to prevent the burden of two or more trials, a defendant who raises double jeopardy objections before the commencement of a trial can ordinarily immediately appeal an adverse ruling. This exception is contrary to the general rule that doesn’t permit appeals of orders that aren’t final. Otherwise, the primary area contested turns on the bench or jury trial and when jeopardy attaches prior to judgment.

The “Raise the Age” Debate: Texas Increases Criminal Age to 18

The State of Texas has maintained that individuals who commit a crime at the age of 17 or above can be tried as adults. However, this policy is drawing criticism from activists on both sides of the isle. Some people say that the minimum age for criminal sentencing should be increased because many people make mistakes in their youth. In contrast, opponents cite the increased cost of juvenile detention centers and fairness as reasons why the age requirement for adult sentencing should be decreased. Below are both sides of the debate about whether teens should be tried as adults in the court of law.

Situation in Texas

The State of Texas has often been considered as a key driver of criminal legislation in the United States. Texas has historically imposed harsher penalties for criminal offenses. However, Texas is one of only a few states that automatically tries all individuals as adults if they are at least 17 years of age. Many states try individuals as adults they are at least 18 years old. Therefore, it is significant to consider the lower age threshold used in the State of Texas.

The Texas rule that made anyone over 17 years of age automatically liable for adult criminal penalties was originally passed in 1918. As a result, this has long been a core component of criminal legislation in Texas. The 17-year threshold is also important because Texas levies high criminal penalties for murder and manslaughter. Even in today’s world, Texas continues to apply the death penalty more than any other state.

The 17-year threshold has become an important topic of debate in Texas because of recent Supreme Court rulings. In the year 2012, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down legislation by Texas Governor Rick Perry that would have automatically subjected all individuals found guilty of murder to life in prison. Many people in the legal community have questioned the wisdom of life sentences for young offenders who have become rehabilitated. This issue has initiated a fierce debate throughout the United States that is likely to continue for many years.

Legislation in Other States

States vary significantly in the way that they classify criminal offenses. The Constitution of the United States offers significant flexibility for individual states to determine their own policies regarding criminal offenses. New York and North Carolina automatically try offenders as adults if they are at least 16 years old. In contrast, many states do not apply adult criminal penalties unless an individual is at least 18 years old. The underlying drivers of criminal penalty variation are determined by the political leanings of individuals in each state. Since these factors can vary significantly, criminal legislation can be very different from one state to the next.

Supporters of Lower Age Classification

Supporters of younger age thresholds site several legitimate factors. Studies have shown that the total cost of housing a juvenile offender is more than seven times the cost of an ordinary adult prisoner. Therefore, supporters believe that the costs associated with the penal system could be significantly reduced by cutting the number of juvenile offenders. Supporters also cite that younger offenders should not be given a break for committing the same crime.

Supporters of Higher Age Classification

Many people also support higher age classifications for trying individuals as adult criminal offenders. These people often cite how the limited education of younger offenders can drive some people to commit offenses that they later regret. Supporters of higher age thresholds also believe that rehabilitation programs are more effective than traditional incarceration. Studies have shown that juvenile detention programs can significantly decrease the likelihood of an individual committing a crime in the future. In contrast, the adult penal system can actually increase the chances of an individual committing another offense.

Continuing the Debate

The debate about the minimum age thresholds for adult criminal sentencing will be fierce in the years ahead. Many people have strong opinions about how young people should be tried in the criminal justice system. While legislation will be slow, it is likely that many states will begin to increase the minimum age classification for charging young offenders as adults. However, the fundamentals of the Constitution will continue to drive variation between states and intensify the debate throughout the country.