Most folks are under the impression that release on bail or bond means the arrested person is free to go back to their life without restrictions until they are due back in court. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Even though it would seem to undermine the presumption of innocence to put restrictions on the movement and actions of someone who has not been convicted of any crimes, most people released on bail nonetheless find their movements and/or actions restricted. Due to changes instituted by the 1984 Bail Reform Act conditions are not always as restrictive as they used to be, but they are still imposed and the person out on bail will need to adhere to them, or they’re likely to wind back in a cell awaiting their day in court rather than at home with family and friends.

handcuffed man behind bars

The Bondsman May Also Impose Restrictions

We’ll get into the bail conditions that may be imposed by the state in a moment. But first we need to touch on the issue of restrictions imposed by bail agents. These professionals put large amounts of money on the line every time they help someone obtain their release. But there is always the chance they will lose everything. As such, they sometimes will impose conditions of their own on the accused before they’ll agree to help. For instance, if the accused has a history of drug abuse the bondsman may insist that they make regularly scheduled visits to a treatment center as a condition of the bond. The agent may also revoke bond if they learn you have missed scheduled appointments with court officers.

Conditions Imposed by the State

Far more common than conditions imposed by a bail bonds agent, however, are conditions imposed on the accused by the state before they agree to grant bail. Some possible conditions include:

  • Checking in with the police - Sometimes the court will insist the accused check in with police or an officer of the court on a regular basis.
  • Adhering to a curfew - The court will sometimes require a person out on bail to be home by a certain hour.
  • Wearing an ankle bracelet - In some cases the court will require a person to wear an electronic ankle bracelet that monitors their movements and alerts law enforcement if they stray beyond the confines of their release.
  • Surrender their passport - If the court determines a person represents an international flight risk they may insist that accused surrender their passport before granting bail. This is actually a fairly common condition.
  • Staying away from others - In domestic cases the court will often forbid the accused from having contact with or coming within a certain distance of a spouse or child. Sometimes these restrictions are extended to girlfriends or boyfriends, whether current of former.
  • No contact - A person on bail will often be forbidden from contacting specific people. Again, this type of restriction is usually applied in cases of domestic violence or abuse.
  • Refrain from using drugs or alcohol - In cases where alcohol or drugs seemingly played a part the accused will often be forbidden from drinking or taking drugs while out on bail.
  • Seeking treatment - That same person may be required to seek treatment and prove they are attending treatment sessions. This may well be in addition to any similar condition levied on the accused by the bail bonding agent.
  • No out of state travel - While passports are sometimes seized the court will occasionally go even further and forbid someone from traveling out of state or even confine their movements to a specific area. Such as Adams County, Broomfield County, Weld County or Denver proper.
  • Must not move - People on bail are often forbidden from changing their address.

This is just a sample of possible bail conditions. Violating any of them would likely result in bail being revoked. Also, being arrested while out on bail is almost guaranteed to result in bail revocation.

No Bail Situations

While most people accused of committing a crime will be granted bail there are some circumstances under which the court may refuse to allow someone’s release at any price. Such circumstances typically include:

  • If the defendant has skipped bail before - People with a prior history of jumping bail are likely to be denied bail upon being arrested. This only make sense since they’ve proven they are a flight risk.
  • Drug trafficking - People accused of large scale drug trafficking offenses are often considered a significant flight risk and are denied bail.
  • Significant risk to the public - People with a history of violent crime or who are suspected of having committed heinous acts against their fellows are often denied bail on the grounds they represent a significant risk to public safety.
  • Membership in a terrorist organization - If the accused has espoused support for various terrorist organizations or has admitted membership in a known terrorist organization they may be denied bail on the grounds of public safety.
  • Psychiatric problems - If the court believes the accused suffers from psychiatric problems that may lead them to harm themselves or others they may deny bail pending the results of a psychiatric exam.

The Bottom Line

Bail is not guaranteed in all situations, nor is it carte blanche to resume your previous life. If it is granted it often comes with some substantial strings attached. If you find yourself free on bail it would be wise to adhere closely to any and all conditions of release.