If you’ve watched any television at all, you have no doubt heard about a defendant getting out on bail. Have you ever wondered exactly what that means? The United States justice system operates under the presumption of a defendant’s innocence. The cash bail system allows a means for most defendants to remain free while awaiting trial.
What is Bail?
Bail is an amount of money, determined by a judge, that is paid as a form of guarantee that a defendant will show up for trial dates. Bail can be paid to the court in full or with York County bail bonds. Some courts do accept collateral property in lieu of cash.
How Does a Judge Determine the Amount of Bail?
The amount of bail is set at the defendant’s preliminary hearing, which typically takes place within a few days of the arrest. Typically, bail amounts are set higher for more serious or violent crimes or where a defendant is deemed to be at risk of fleeing from justice. Judges also have the power to deny bail, requiring the defendant to stay in state custody throughout the trial. Interested parties can call the jail where a defendant is held to find out if bail has been set. A defendant’s lawyer may also communicate with the jail regarding bail.
What if a Defendant Cannot Pay Bail?
Bail must be remitted to the court to secure the defendant’s release. Courts may also accept certain types of real property, such as a home, commercial property or land, in lieu of cash. If a defendant cannot raise the full bail amount, he or she may instead pay a bail bondsman to issue a surety bond to the court. The bail bondsman serves at the guarantor for the defendant in exchange for a fee. If the defendant cannot raise bail or secure a bail bond, he must remain in jail until his trial date.