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.