You can bail out your friend or loved one now. You can do this by putting up the money yourself, or by paying a bondsman a percentage of the overall bail. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. However, in some circumstances, you may want to hire a criminal defense attorney to see if you can get the bail amount lowered, or even get the defendant release without paying bail. Read below.
If you put up the money yourself, your loved one can be bailed out as soon as you post the cash bail. Moreover, you get your money back when the case is over. However, most people cannot afford to put up the entire cash bail amount and wait for the case to end to get that money back. For instance, currently, standard bail on a first offense domestic violence charge is $3,000. And on more serious cases, such as felonies, standard bail might be $10,000 or $20,000. Not many people have an extra $3,000 lying around that they can afford to leave untouched for several months, let alone an extra $20,000. So most people who need to bail out a loved one have to go through a bail bondsman.
If you go to a bail bondsman and pay their fee, the bondsman will write a bond for the full amount of the bail and free your loved one from custody. A bond is the bondsman's promise to pay the full bail amount if the defendant does not show up to court. Because writing a bond makes a bondsman liable for the full bail amount, a bondsman will require your personal guarantee to cover the full bail amount if the bond is revoked.
In addition to your personal guarantee, the bondsman's fee is 15% of the overall bail amount. For example, if your loved one has been arrested on a felony charge and his bail is set at $10,000, a bondsman will want $1,500 to write the bond, plus additional miscellaneous fees for posting the bond.
Most bondsmen will accept a down payment to write the bond, and many offer no interest financing for the remaining fees. For higher bail amounts, a bondsman will require collateral before writing the bond. Collateral might consist of a car title or other valuable property.
However, if the bail is currently set higher than you can afford, even going through a bondsman, you may have to look into other options.
If bail is too high for you and your family to afford, you can hire a criminal defense attorney to seek either a bail reduction or a release without bail (called an "own recognizance release"). Both of these are possibilities, depending upon a number of factors.
A criminal defendant is entitled to a bail setting under the United States Constitution and the Nevada Constitution for all criminal charges except first degree murder. The judge decides the actual bail amount, however, so while a person is entitled to bail, he is not entitled to a bail that he or his family can afford to pay.
If you hire a criminal defense attorney, that attorney can make a motion for a bail reduction or an own recognizance ("OR") release. Bail setting or OR release is based on a number of factors. Some important factors that may help with a bail reduction or OR release include family support, whether the defendant has a local home address and a job, and the defendant's criminal record, if any. Criminal defense attorneys are familiar with these factors and more and will bring them to the judge's attention at a bail hearing. Additionally, criminal defense attorneys are familiar with options such as house arrest or intensive supervision, which may be important to bring up to secure a bail reduction or OR release.
Even with serious pending criminal charges, bail can be lowered significantly
based on a skillful argument at a bail hearing. But it is important to
act quickly to maximize the chances of that happening. Many times, if
bail is not reduced at the first appearance in court, the bail may not
be lowered until a plea deal is reached. That could take weeks or months.
So if your loved one is currently in jail somewhere in Las Vegas or Clark
County, call me now to talk about the possibility of a bail reduction
or OR release.
By Michael Pandullo