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Bail and Bonds

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The last place anyone wants to find themselves is in a jail cell. And if you’re unlucky enough arrive in one your first concern is getting out as quickly as possible. But how? First you will need to be “booked,” or processed into police custody. Then you may have to post “bail,” a set amount of money you pay in exchange for your release.

This article provides an overview of the booking procedure and the bail and bonds process.

What Does Booking Mean?

If you're placed under arrest, normally you will be taken into police custody and booked, or processed. During booking, officers will generally:

  • Record your personal information (name, date of birth, physical characteristics);
  • Record information about the alleged crime;
  • Record your fingerprints, and photographs;
  • Check for any criminal background;
  • Search your person and confiscates any personal property like keys, phone, or a purse (to be returned upon your release); and
  • Place you in a police station holding cell or local jail.

If you’ve been arrested for a minor offense, you might be given a written citation and released, after signing the citation and promising to appear in court at a later date. If not, you will go through the bail and bond procedure.

Arraignment and Own Recognizance Release

After booking, the next step is the arraignment, where you will be read the formal charges and be given an opportunity to arrange for your release. The main concern authorities have is that you show up for your future court dates. In certain cases, you may be eligible to be released on your own recognizance. This means you promise in writing to appear in court later on. A judge deciding whether to grant own recognizance release normally considers:

  • The seriousness of the crime;
  • Your criminal record, if any;
  • Whether you pose a danger to the community; and
  • Your ties to the community (whether you are a risk to flee).

If you are released on your own recognizance and fail to appear for your court date as scheduled, a warrant may be issued for your arrest.

What is Bail?

In some cases, a written promise to appear in court isn’t enough, and the court will want a financial guarantee that you will appear in court. Bail is a process by which you pay a set amount of money to obtain your release from police custody. As part of your release, you promise to appear in court for all of your scheduled criminal proceedings. If you show up to court as promised, the bail amount will be returned. If not, you will be subject to arrest and you will forfeit the bail amount.

The bail proceedings can vary from court to court, but generally the court will have a bail hearing to decide whether to grant bail (in extreme cases a court can deny your release altogether) and, if so, what amount is appropriate. The court will have a bail hearing, during which it will consider:

  • Your physical and mental condition;
  • Your financial resources;
  • Your family ties;
  • Any history relating to drug and alcohol abuse;
  • Any criminal history;
  • Any previous record concerning appearance at court proceedings; and
  • The length of your residence in the community.

Along with the monetary bail determination, the court could also impose restrictions on your release like limiting your travel, enforcing a curfew, revoking gun ownership privileges, or requiring drug, alcohol, medical, or psychological testing or treatment.

Posting Bail and Bail Bond Agents

Once a court has set the amount of your bail, that amount, or a specified percentage, must be posted, or paid to the court. Generally you can pay in cash or an approved cash substitute, such as a money order or cashier's check. Once you’ve posted bail, the court will issue a document or an order that shows you may be released.

If you can’t afford to post your own bail, you can contract a commercial bail bond agent (or bail bondsman) to pay and ensure bond. A bond agent will charge a nonrefundable fee, usually 10 to 20 percent of the total bail. In return, the bail bond agent agrees to pay the remaining amount to the court if you fail to appear for your court proceedings.

More Questions About Bail and Bonds? Contact a Lawyer

Finding yourself in jail and needing a bail and bond can be a scary experience. Posting bail, being released on your own recognizance, finding a bail bonds agent -- the sheer amount of issues you will have to deal with can be overwhelming. If you’ve been arrested, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area to discuss your specific situation.


Regular Bail is granted to a person by the Court after his arrest is made, it is granted to the accused from the custody to ensure his presence in the Court as and when required. When a person is arrested by the police officer after commencement of any cognizable or non-cognizable offence, such person has a right to be released from custody under section 437 & 439 of Code of Criminal Procedure and for the same purpose the regular bail is applied.

Provision of Bail

Section 437 and section 439 of Code of Criminal Procedure lays down the Provision of Regular Bail where it is clearly mentioned that when any person accused of, or suspected of the commission of any non-bailable offence is arrested or detained without warrant by an officer in charge of a police station appear before the court other than the High Court or Court of Session he may be released on bail. Bail shall not be so released if there is reasonable ground for believing that he has been guilty of an offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life. As per the Provision the person shall not be released on bail if such offence is a cognizable offence and the person has been previously convicted of an offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life, or imprisonment for seven years or more, or if the person had been previously convicted on two or more occasions. Provided that the mere fact that an accused person may be required for being identified by witness during investigation shall not be sufficient ground for refusing to grant bail if he has otherwise entitled to be released on bail and gives the undertaking that he shall comply with such directions as may be given by the court.

Section 439 of Code of Criminal Procedure states the special power of High Court or Court of Session regarding bail. It states that any person accused of an offence and in custody be released on bail, and if the offence is of the nature specified in subsection 3 of section 437, may impose any condition which it considers necessary for the purposes mentioned. Any condition imposed by a magistrate when releasing any person on bail be set aside or modified.

Provided that the High Court or the Court of Session shall before granting bail to a person who is accused of an offence which is triable exclusively by the Court of Session or whichy, though not so triable, is punishable with imprisonment for life, give notice of the application for bail to the Public Prosecutor unless it is, for reasons to be recorded in writing, of opinion that it is not practicable to give such notice.