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Understanding Bond and "Bail"

If you've watched even a moderate amount of TV, you probably know that "bailing" someone out of jail means paying money to release them following their arrest. However, fewer of us understand just how bonds function in our criminal justice system and, if we become charged with a crime, what our options might be.

What is bond?

Contrary to what many believe, bonds (or paying "bail") are not punitive, they are not a fine. Simply put, bond is collateral. It is paid in exchange for the accused's freedom while they wait to return to court and face their charges. Instead of simply trusting everyone who is accused of a crime to return for their court date, the court will require a bond to compel them to return. If they do, they receive the bond payment back. If accused cannot pay the bond, they will remain in custody until their court date.

What kind of bonds are there?

It is up to a judge to decide what kind of bond to offer and how serious (expensive) it should be. Generally speaking, there are four kinds of bonds that can be offered and accepted at an arraignment.

The four kinds of bonds are:

  • Own recognizance. The court decides the accused is trustworthy enough to be released without having to pay anything.
  • Cash bonds. Bonds that are paid by the accused to the court.
  • Property bonds. Sometimes, the court will accept the accused's existing property or assets as collateral.
  • Surety bonds. These bonds are paid by a third party on the accused's behalf. Whoever pays a surety bond, however, will forfeit the money if the accused fails to later return to court.

How much will my bond be?

If a judge decides to set bond (and in the case of very serious allegations, they do not have to), there are multiple factors that go into deciding just how expensive it will be. These include the seriousness of the criminal allegation, the accused's criminal history, and any other factors that may indicate that the accused is a flight risk.

No matter what the size of your bond is, it is always strongly advised that you honor it. Not returning to court will not only further complicate your case and aggravate your charges but, if loved ones used a bail bond service, bond enforcement agents (bounty hunters) may be dispatched to forcibly return you to jail.

The Law Offices of Randall J. Craig was founded by an experienced former prosecutor. Attorney Craig is now an aggressive Scottsdale criminal defense lawyer who has built his reputation on providing comprehensive counsel for those who need their rights protected before the law. From their initial arrest to the court's final decision, clients who choose his firm can rest assured that they will receive every consideration they deserve.

If you've been charged, start protecting your future today. Call the firm at (480) 767-0400 now.