How Does Bail Work?

SQ Attorneys

Bail reform has been a hot political issue the last few election cycles. Supporters of cash bail bonds say they provide assurance that defendants will appear in court while others  say that too often, defendants simply can’t afford the bail, and it does little more than criminalize poverty.

While a few states have taken steps to give judges more leeway to waive cash bail when they think situations warrant it, only one state has decided to take the full dive and ban cash bail outright. That state is Illinois, and they will begin doing it after Jan. 1, 2023 – unless, that is, a lawsuit by several dozen state prosecutors and sheriffs stops it.

Cash bail is the money paid to get someone out of jail after they are arrested. The purpose of setting and receiving bail is to ensure that a defendant will return for a trial or hearings. If they do, the money is returned. If they don’t, the government keeps the money.

If they lack the cash, they can turn to private bail bond companies that will pay the bail for a nonrefundable fee, usually 10 to 15 percent of the bail amount. The rest of the amount is secured by collateral – a house, car, jewelry, etc. If the defendant misses a court date, the lending company can use the collateral to pay for the full amount.

The obvious problem for many defendants is that they don’t have the cash or possessions to pay the bail or borrow. This means they must stay in jail as they await their court dates. These defendants are called pretrial detainees and make up the majority of people awaiting trial from behind bars. Their average wait: 25 days.

When critics argue that the bail system needs to be reformed, pretrial detention is one of their primary targets. They ask: Is it fair for half a million Americans to sit behind bars for weeks when they are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty?

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer. SQ Attorneys can be reached at (425) 359-3791 and/or (206) 441-0900.

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