When a suspect has been charged with a crime, prosecutors often ask the court to impose bail. What is bail you ask? In simple terms, bail is the collateral pledged to the court so as to persuade the presiding judge to release the person from custody while his case is pending – otherwise, he is just sitting behind bars until his case is resolved, which could be months or in some extreme instances even years.
When bail is posted, the court releases the defendant on the understanding that he will return for all of his hearings or the bail posted will be forfeited. In essence, bail is simply a tool that the court uses to assure that the defendant doesn’t walk away or conveniently disappear. If bail is posted by the defendant or his family and/or friend’s, the bail will be returned at the end of the case so long as the defendant attends all of his court appearances, regardless of whether he was found guilty, or not. If a bondsman is used, however, the payment for the bond is, in essence, the fee for the insurance policy purchased and is not refundable – it is, in other words, a sunk cost.
The amount of bail required to get out of jail can vary and is often case dependent. The setting of the bail amount depends in large part on the seriousness of the crime, the defendant’s criminal history, and whether the court thinks the defendant is a danger to the community or a flight risk. Luckily, in many cases the court is not worried about a defendant absconding, and thus will let the defendant go on his own ‘personal recognizance’. In court vernacular this is called PR’ing the defendant.
There are both positives and negatives about our bail system. Bail affords a defendant the opportunity to get out of jail while his case is pending; it allows a person to continue working, care for his family, hire and work with an attorney and pay bills. Many people, however, are simply not able to post bail, and this can be utterly devastating on a number of levels, inclusive of some defendants even being forced to plead to crimes they did not commit so as to get out of jail sooner, not lose their job, their house or even their family. Sadly, this is a disappointing testament to the problems of our bail system in that many people have little choice but to take the second option. That said, at least bail provides some defendants an opportunity to carry on with their lives while charged with a crime.
If you or a loved one is charged with a crime you should immediately seek the advice and/or assistance of a qualified Seattle criminal defense attorney. The Seattle Criminal Defense Attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle criminal defense lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested for crime all across Western Washington and the Greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case. So, whether you are charged with misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or a felony, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys at (206) 441-0900.