Home Blog Bail Bonds Understanding the Point of Bail: Exploring Its Purpose and Importance Post Image

July 11, 2024  |  Posted by jesse  |  Bail Bonds

Bail is part and parcel of the U.S. (and Californian) legal system. It’s essential for upholding American citizens’ right to a fair trial. 

But if you are honest, do you understand it? Maybe not. 

That’s where this post can help. We look at the value and purpose of bail in the legal system before moving on to how it works and its benefits. 

Understanding Bail: It’s Purpose And Value In The Legal System

Bail serves multiple purposes in the U.S. legal system and several principles in law. For example, it supports the English common law premise of “innocent until proven guilty,” sometimes called the “presumption of innocence.” Bail lets defendants walk free until proven culpable at trial, as long as it is safe to do so. It avoids harmful pretrial detention that removes people from their work and families and damages their lives. 

However, bail offers other benefits, too. For instance, it permits fair trial preparation. Defendants can consult with lawyers and gather evidence more easily when not detained. (That contrasts with people who must stay in prison). Family members and legal professionals must collect data on their behalf, which might be more challenging or impossible. 

Bail also improves public safety. Defendants must observe various conditions upon release, such as wearing ankle tags or obeying curfews (not staying out late at night). If defendants break these conditions (or fail to attend their court hearing), they forfeit the money. 

Finally, bail incentives court appearances, since the amount set reflects the severity of the charges. The worse the potential sentence, the higher the bail. 

As an aside, judges may sometimes release some defendants on their “own recognizance” in California. This rule means they do not have to make bail payments to secure release from jail. However, they must still behave in the community and observe court conditions. If they don’t, police will return them to pretrial detention until the trial date. 

How Does Bail Work? 

Bail can be confusing after you or a loved one gets arrested. You don’t always know how it works. 

Fortunately, this section has answers. We look at the process most bail proceedings follow and what you should do at each step. 

Step 1: Arrest

The first step is when law enforcement arrests and charges you with a crime. (If they don’t charge you, they must release you within 48 hours and you don’t need to apply for bail). 

Step 2: Bail Hearing

Soon after arrest, the police will take you to a bail hearing where the judge will outline the bail conditions. Judges must set bail in California according to the state’s bail schedule, a document listing suitable bail amounts based on the severity of the charges. 

Step 3: Post Bail

After this, you can post bail (because you know how much it is), and choose how you do this. 

One method is to pay the bail in cash upfront. If you have money available in your bank and you don’t mind tying it up with the court, you could try this option. 

Another more popular approach is to use a bail bond. Here, you pay us a non-refundable fee (10% or less of the bail amount) and we post bail on your behalf. When you attend all your court dates and fulfill bail conditions, the court returns the cash. 

Balboa Bail Bonds is available 24/7 so you (or a loved one) can call us anytime to arrange bail. 

Step 4: Release From Jail

Once the court receives the bail money, you can leave jail. The presiding officer will let you out of your cell and you can go home. 

How long this takes in practice depends on the efficiency of the police department. Sometimes, it’s minutes; other times it’s hours. Usually, though, you can be out in less than a day and get back to your family, friends, and work (bail conditions permitting). 

Step 5: Attend Court

Next, you need to attend all your court hearings. Missing just one could forfeit the bail. 

At Balboa Bail Bonds, we can help you fulfill your attendance requirements. Our team will send you reminders and can even collect you if there is a risk you won’t attend. This service increases the likelihood the court will return the bail money and you can avoid forfeiting any assets

If you attend all your court hearings and observe the bail conditions the judge sets, the court will release the bail money. If you paid cash, they will return it to your bank account. If you used a bail bond, they will return it to the original agent. 

Note that bail is not a punishment. It’s just a way to facilitate the legal process and ensure everyone follows the rules (including the authorities). 

The Benefits Of Bail

Here are some quick benefits of bail and why the institution has been around for over 200 years: 

  • It allows you to continue working, care for family members, and manage stress (when charged with a crime)
  • It lets you enjoy emotional support from family and friends
  • It gives you time to prepare evidence before the trial and meet with attorneys
  • It stops you from having to spend weeks or months in a police cell awaiting your court appearance
  • It provides you with a strong incentive to go to court, protecting you against further charges 

Demystifying Bail: What You Need to Know

Hopefully, this article explained more about the point of bail and its purpose. While it can look confusing from the outside, understanding how it works isn’t too challenging. Ultimately, bail is a tool for smoothing the legal process and upholding constitutional rights. It lets you maintain stability in your life and avoid a long jail stay that might bias the trial’s results. Secondary benefits include maintaining public safety and ensuring you have time to collect evidence and prepare your defense. 

To discuss bail bonds, talk to Balboa Bail Bonds today.