A thank you for Patrick Henry, guest blogger, who wrote much of this entry. So much of being a St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer involves not just helping clients with criminal matters. Many times a client needs a less expensive, reliable way to bond out of jail. A bondsman can definitely help in that regard. But how can a bondsman help and what is his/her role in the judicial process?
The Role of Bail and Bail Bonds Agents
The operation of the criminal justice system is foreign to most people. Courts and jails are intimidating places that instill fear and anxiety in people who are there because they are accused of committing a crime. The first questions most people who have been arrested ask their criminal defense attorney is, “How do I get out of jail?” and “How do I do it quickly?”
Bail is the process through which a person’s future appearance in court is assured by making release from custody conditioned upon the accused person depositing a sum of money, in an amount decided by the judge. The bail is forfeited if the person fails to return to court.
Most jurisdictions have a bail schedule for minor offenses (such as possession of marijuana or disorderly conduct) posted at the jail or police station to allow a person to be released after posting the designated amount. This avoids the need to bring the arrested person to a courthouse to have a judge set bail.
A judge will set higher bail for offenses that are more serious (such as an aggravated battery or drug trafficking charge), or where the person under arrest has a prior criminal record. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that bail is not a right guaranteed under the Constitution. According to the Supreme Court, all the Constitution requires is that bail not be for an excessive amount. This leaves it solely to the discretion of the judge hearing the case to decide the amount of bail to be posted to secure a person’s release. In other words, for the truly serious crimes such as murder, no bond needs to be set at all.
If bail is set in an amount that the accused person can afford to pay, being released from custody is accomplished by depositing cash with the court. If a person does not have the money to post the bail, they will usually seek the services of an experienced bail bonds agent.
Bail bonds agents are licensed to do business in most states. For a non-refundable fee, usually set by the state as a percentage of the amount of the bail, the bail bonds agent posts a bond with the court to secure the person’s release. The bail bonds agent is responsible for the appearance of the accused person at all future court proceedings, or the bond posted by the agent is forfeited. This website has a more in-depth guide for bail bonds you can download.
To the person sitting in jail who does not have enough money to post bail, the bail bonds agent’s fee is a small price to pay to obtain freedom.
The law firm of Blake & Dorsten, P.A. is here for you 365/24/7 for all your criminal and personal injury needs. If you or a loved one has been arrested call us at 727.286.6141 or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We handle all criminal and personal injury cases throughout the Tampa Bay area including St. Petersburg, Clearwater beach, Gulfport, Dunedin, Sarasota and Dade City.