What Does It Mean to Be Out On Bail

UPDATED 12/23/20

Let’s say you were arrested for a crime you didn’t commit and you’re trying to secure a bail bond. Where would you begin? If you want to get out on bail, you should find a good lawyer who can help you secure bail. You may ask: how to make bail with no money? Or put differently: how to pay someone’s bond.

Well, if you really want to pay bail for someone or you’re the one who needs to go out on bail, you need to confirm if there’s an arrest or you were just being kept in custody for questioning. Once you confirm the arrest, find out what would be a bail amount. Please note that bail amounts differ from one court case to another. Also, there are instances where a court can decide a defendant cannot be released on bail. So, once a bail amount is being paid, the defendant will be released but that doesn’t mean they are entirely free. It simply means they don’t have to remain in jail while the court case is underway.

If you or someone you know is currently out on bail from jail then you need to understand what does it mean to be out on bail. Getting out of jail on bail is not really a get out of jail free card. You or your loved one will be released with a set of conditions that you need to comply with.

Being bailed out of jail may mean that you now have a bail agent that is involved in your life. It may mean that you have taken on additional bills because you have to pay that agent regular payments. Learning what does it mean to be out on bail can help you to understand the process better.

What Does it Mean To Be Out On Bail And Dealing With the Conditions of Bail

In a little over a 10 year period the issuance of commercial bail bonds increased by about 32%. Bail has become the standard in most states. A bail bond is used as a guarantee that the defendant will return for their court dates, but typically, paying that bond is not the only condition of release. Conditions of release can include a wide range of things the defendant is banned from participating in and equally a wide range of things that they must do as part of the bond agreement.What does it mean to be out on bail and not meet a condition,nothing good.

Here are some of the most common conditions of release:

  • Prohibition of any new charges. Being rearrested for a new crim can and likely will void your bail and put you back in jail. If you are wondering what does it means to be out on bail, it means, in a nutshell, stay out of trouble. New charges can violate your bond and the bail bondsmen services all may refuse to right another bond for you.
  • In some cases you may have to participate in a monitoring program. Let’s say the defendant has had a couple of DWI charges. As a condition of the bond, the defendant may be required to wear an ankle monitoring device that tests for alcohol consumption. Another time you may need to wear GPS monitoring is when you are charged with a very serious crime.
  • As a condition of release you may have to stay away from the property or the person that filed the charges against you. For example, the police were called to your home for a suspected domestic dispute, until the case is resolved, you likely will not be able to return to your home.
  • Bail bond agents can require regular check-ins. Even if the bail bonds person does not require regular check-ins, the defendant is usually prohibited from leaving the area without permission even for a weekend getaway.
  • The defendant’s lawyer needs to be able to reach the defendant and know where they are. If you the defendant changes their phone number or moves, they are required to tell their lawyer and the bond agent.

No matter what type of bail bond service is used, the requirements about keeping in touch, not leaving the area, and making any payments on time are all conditions of release. Some fast bail bond service agents can get you out of jail in a couple of hours, but that does not change the conditions of release. Even the most laid back agents want to be sure they can find you if they need to.

Another very important condition of release is not getting into any more trouble. What does it mean to be out on bail and get into legal trouble? Getting into any legal trouble between the bail release and the next court date can instantly void the bail bond and land the defendant back in jail.

What Does It Mean to Be Out On Bail And Raising Money for Bail

bailing process

When a judge or a magistrate sets bail, you have three ways to make that bail payment. You can use real property, you can pay cash, or you can pay a bail bond company. Most people take the bail bond company route, because most people do not have that type of cash laying around, and most people do not have a house that they can put up as collateral.

In two of the cases if you post bail, you will get the money back or the property released when the case is concluded. When you pay a bail agent to get you out of jail, you do not get any of the money back that you pay them.

Typically a bail bond company will charge between 10%-15% of the cost of the bond. Let’s say your bail is $50,000, which means you will have to pay the bail bondsman either $5000 or $7500. Some bail agents accept property, but most do not. You can use credit cards or cash.

How can a defendant come up with that type of cash? The first thing to do is to ask the bail company if they offer payment options. Some companies do. You can make a down payment, and usually will have to pay weekly until the amount due is paid. Missing one of these payments can land you right back in jail, so it is important that you really consider whether you can make those weekly payments or not.

Many times family members will sell off their personal belongings to help raise some cash. A firearm sale can raise a couple of hundred dollars, selling jewelry, and other goods can help to raise the funds needed.

In some cases communities come together when they believe that someone has wrongly been charged and have restaurant fundraisers, community garage sales, church collections, and more to help get the defendant out on bail.

There is no doubt that bail can be expensive but being innovative and getting help from family and friends can go a long way in coming up with the cash. What if you wind up with a payment plan and fall behind? The very first thing to do is contact the bail agent, offer up a partial payment, explain your situation, and be clear about when you can get back on track.

What Does It Mean to Be Out On Bail And Miss Your Court Date

Going to court is always a scary stressful thing to deal with, unfortunately, the reason that the bail system is in place, because so many people, skip out on their court date because it is a scary prospect to be faced with losing your freedom.

If you are out on bail, making it to your court date is vital to staying out on bail. If you have a legitimate reason for not being able to get there, be prepared to provide your criminal defense attorney with paperwork proving why you cannot be there.

If you are called and failed (your name is called on the court calendar and you do not answer) the judge will revoke your bail, and likely double the amount it will take you to get out after you have been picked up on the warrant. An FTA (failure to appear) warrant is issued when you have not appeared in court as promised. It can mean that the police will be actively looking for you. They will come to your last known address, any time of the day or night, and arrest you on the spot.

Not going to court when you are supposed to be there is rarely excused except in the case of:

  • The death of a close relative like your mother or your father, sister or brother, spouse or child. You cannot miss the court because your uncle or aunt or cousin or friend died.
  • Hospitalized. If you are hospitalized, you still will need to provide proof that you are in the hospital and get that proof to your lawyer.
  • An accident on the way to court, unless you are seriously injured and on your way to the hospital typically will not be a good enough reason. Everyone says they got a flat tire, they were in an accident, they did not have a ride, it does not work. If you are in an accident that does not result in injury, it is better to show up late for court and explain what happened then not coming at all.

Being in court when you are supposed to be in the main condition of bail in the first place. If something really does happen on the way to court, ask around about security camera systems that may have caught the event on tape, just so you have proof. You never want to test the waters when it comes to excuses for not being in court. It is always best to take an overabundance of caution and get all the proof that you need to support your excuse.

What Does It Mean to Be Out On Bail and Hanging Out With Certain Friends

Thinking of bail as a sort of pretrial probation is a good way of thinking about it. Just like when you are on community probation, when you are out on bail, you should not be in the company of felons. Why? Because people that are known to the law as problems, draw attention from the law. You do not want to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Keeping a low profile while you are out on bail is one of the best ways to stay clear of any more charges. Keep in mind that even if you are charged with a new crime, not convicted of a new crime, your bond can be revoked.

Steering clear of people that can compound your legal problems is a good idea. Once you are out on bail you sort of lose some of your rights, but not on paper.

What Does It Mean To Be Out On Bail and Having to Do Pretrial Classes

The only things that the court can really require from you while you are out on bail are to follow your release conditions, however, your lawyer may have other plans for you. In many cases, your defense attorney will suggest that you get ahead of your court case by taking classes, participating in rehab, getting your drivers license in order, paying off old fines, and other activities.

What is the point of doing pretrial stuff when you have not even been convicted? That sounds like a reasonable question and here are the answers:

  • In your lawyer’s experience taking an anger management class, or another type of class, helps you to get a better outcome in your case. Many times when drug or alcohol is involved in a crime, part of the punishment is to get treatment or take classes, doing this while you are out on bail, shows the court you are motivated to make changes. It can result in leniency from the court.
  • It may help your lawyer to cut a deal with the District Attorney that is prosecuting your case. In some cases, a prosecutor will even dismiss charges when certain actions are taken.
  • It shows the court that you made a mistake you are willing to take responsibility for.

If an attorney suggests to a client that they should go for alcohol or drug screening, sign up for an anger management class or start seeing a counselor it is usually because it will help the defendant’s case and the outcome of the case. If you are out on bail, it is a good idea that you follow the attorney’s directions, additionally, if you are out on bail and all your spare time is dedicated to taking classes and getting help, you won’t have time to get in trouble. It is a win-win situation.

Bail is a great option, but it does not come without a lot of responsibility and caveats. It is an opportunity to help your lawyer prepare a case for the defense, and an opportunity to continue to work while you wait for your court date. It is not something that should be taken lightly. There are rules to being out on bail, and they should all be followed closely.

You never want to find out what does it mean to be out on bail and have the bail forfeited. Stay in touch with the bail agent, show up for court as directed, and stay out of trouble so you never need to find out what does it mean to be out on bail and wind up back in jail.

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