You’ve probably heard the term “bail” used on television law dramas, or you’ve seen Dog the Bounty Hunter go after criminal defendants who have “skipped bail.” But what exactly is bail?
Bail is simply the term used for a fee the court may impose on a criminal defendant to be released from jail. When arrested for a DUI in Ohio, most courts will allow you to be released on bail. Occasionally, a person can be released on his or her own recognizance without paying a fee. The sooner you talk to your Columbus Ohio DUI lawyer after your arrest, the sooner you can make your case for being released from custody.
Release from jail either way doesn’t release the defendant from the pending legal action, but allows them to be free while waiting for their day in court. When bail money is paid to secure a release from jail, a suspect is also promising to appear at future court hearings and any other required appearances. When a defendant does not appear as promised, they are deemed to have “skipped” bail, or “jumped” bail. This is when the bounty hunters come looking.
Sometimes bail can be paid immediately after the suspect is arrested and booked, and the person can leave jail immediately. Many violations like a DUI have a set bail schedule which determines the amount that must be paid. If the defendant has the amount needed in their bank account, or in a family or friend’s bank account, the bail can be paid and the suspect is released. Other time, however, a hearing must be held and a judge must decide whether bail should be allowed and set the amount of bail the court will require. This is when you need your Columbus Ohio DUI lawyer at your side.
The amount of bail or whether or not bail is allowed at all depends on several factors. In a DUI case, for instance, whether or not it is a first offense, any other past criminal history, and the severity of the alleged offense would be taken into consideration. Bail may be set higher than the regular schedule or denied altogether if the person’s blood alcohol level was several times above the legal limit, or an accident occurred while the person was under the influence which caused serious injury to property or people.
A person’s current employment and family obligations may also be considered when determining bail.
When the bail is too high, a bail bondsman can post what’s known as “bond” to release the suspect from jail. A bond is much like an insurance policy the bondman issues to the court. The bail bondsman is paid a fee in return for posting this promise to the court that the person will appear at any required hearings. The fee paid for this bond is usually a percentage of the actual bail amount, and can allow those who cannot afford bail to be released. Your credit score may affect the amount of your bond and the percentage you must pay to the bondsman. You may also be required to provide the bond company some sort of collateral, like the title to your car, or a lien against any real estate you own. Your Columbus Ohio DUI lawyer can advise you on the best bond companies to deal with in Central Ohio.