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The reason that a bail bond system is in place within the criminal justice system in Denver is to make sure a defendant – someone arrested and suspected of committing a crime – shows up in court for specified appointments like an arraignment or hearing. For this reason, each bond has a specific purpose that you should be aware of.

“Bail” describes the money or property that an arrested person can offer in exchange for their release from jail before trial. If the defendant doesn’t return to court, the bail amount can be forfeited and seized by the court, and an arrest warrant is issued. If the defendant shows up, the bail – money or property – is returned by the court. The amount of bail varies based on different factors, such as the type of crime allegedly committed and the arrest history – if any – of the defendant.

Bail can be posted by the defendant, by a friend or family member, or by a third party. In this case, the defendant gets a bail bond, a contract whereby he or she agrees pay a small amount of the bail cost, usually around 10%, to a bail bond agency for their release. The bail bonds company then gives the court the rest of the bail amount and promises the defendant will return for trial. In some cases, fugitive recovery agents may be hired to track down the accused and return him or her to custody. For this reason, it’s fair to consider the bail process a form of insurance for the legal system.

The judicial system is very process driven, and here are the steps a defendant will go through after being arrested.

  1. The defendant is booked by the arresting agency, with a police officer or other law enforcement official entering the person’s information – name, address, and arrest details – into a computer system. This is when the defendant is “processed” but all of the steps involved could take several hours.

  2. The defendant’s personal belongings are taken away, and the person receives a receipt which usually states the property – unless evidence in a crime – is returned when the defendant is released. When released, it’s important that a defendant carefully review the receipt and verify that all personal belongings have been returned, minus any kept for evidentiary reasons.

  3. If the defendant is unable to post bail, he or she may be assigned to a jail cell until a court date has been established. In some cases, this part of the process could take hours, days, weeks – or longer. Options for Release

 

In some cases, the court will set bail, but there are five release options people should be aware of in the event of being arrested.

  1. Citation Release. This release option is usually for a county-level misdemeanor of some sort, and the defendant may be released on a citation with a promise to appear in court. The arresting agency will assign a court date for the person upon being released from jail.

  2. Own Recognizance (OR). Non-violent offenders may be released on OR with a promise to appear in a local or county court in the county where the alleged crime took place.

  3. Cash Bail. In this case, the defendant is able to post the full bail amount on his or her own behalf, most often if the amount is less than $1,000. Some defendants actually post the bail in cash, while some many choose to use a credit card. If the amount is too much, some defendants may be forced to stay in jail until their court date, or work with a bail bonds agency on a Bail Bond.

  4. Bail Bond, also referred to as a Surety Bond. This type of bond may be simpler because someone does the work for the defendant, but it normally involves a written agreement with a bail bondsman or bond agency with many conditions for release, like counseling or drug treatment programs. Surety Bonds typically require some form of collateral for the bail amount, which could be personal property or some other item. In this case, the defendant pays a fee to the bail bondsman, who in turn posts the rest of the amount. The defendant doesn’t get this money back, and the bondsman is gambling – in essence – that the defendant will show up for appointed court dates and not skip bail. If the person skips bail and fails to show up in court, the bondsman forfeits whatever bail amount has been paid for his client.

  5. Property Bond. Occasionally, a defendant may appear before a compassionate judge who will allow property to be used for bail. In this case, the property usually has to be worth twice as much as the entire bond. When a Property Bond is placed, the court will record a lien on property as a means to guarantee the bail amount and that the defendant will show up – again, another form of insurance. If the defendant fails to show in court on the assigned date, the court may start foreclosure proceedings against his or her property to get back the value of the forfeited bail amount

Finally, the defendant posts bail and is released, often with stipulations besides returning to court on a specified date. Some of these conditions may be not leaving the jurisdiction where the alleged crime took place, not contacting certain people, and so forth.

Defendants must understand that a bail bond and being released from jail is not the end of their journey. While waiting to appear in court, most defendants will use that time to return to work or family, and make an effort to get on with their lives in a lawful and productive manner. Depending on the severity of the alleged crime, the person may hire or consult with an attorney to prepare his or her defense in advance of a court appearance. In all cases, it’s highly recommended that a defendant prepare for the next phase in the legal process, which normally involves another court appearance.