Bail vs. Bond: A Family Member Was Arrested, What Will We Have to Pay?

bail, bond, Illinois Criminal Defense AttorneyThe words “bail” and “bond” are common to stories and news accounts of arrests on criminal charges, especially for violent crimes and felonies. In fact, if you or a loved one has been arrested, you may have heard the words spoken around you. Often, the two terms seem to be used interchangeably, and while the meaning is usually close enough to what the speaker or reporter intended, the two are not quite the same.

What is Bail?

Put simply, bail is a form of security or collateral set by the judge, if required, after a defendant has been arrested to ensure that he or she appears for trial. In a vast majority of criminal cases, the trial date is not held until weeks or months after the initial arrest. The defendant has the option of remaining in jail to await trial, but for an innocent or wrongly-accused person, doing so may be unbearable.

When a judge sets bail, he or she will choose a dollar amount appropriate to the seriousness of the alleged crime the flight risk of the defendant. This amount, often ranging from a few hundred dollars up to one million dollars or more, is owed to the court. By appearing at trial, the defendant is entitled to receive a refund of bail payments made on his or her behalf.

Posting Bond

Very few defendants have the financial resources to pay the full bail amount. However, in order to avoid sitting in jail for weeks, a defendant is often able to create an agreement with the court that they will appear for trial. This agreement is called a bond, and, if bail has been set, a bond requires immediate payment of ten percent of the total bail amount. Thus, a defendant whose bail has been set at $20,000 may post bond with a $2,000 payment, along with a promise to appear. Failure to appear for trial will make the remaining bail amount due in full and subject to aggressive collection activity. In many states, a bail bond is issued by a third party called a bail bondsman, but private bail bonds are illegal in Illinois, and all bail bonds are created through the state.

In determining whether to set bail, a presiding judge has several options. He or she may release a defendant on his or her own recognizance, relying on public reputation and family concerns to guarantee the promised appearance at trial. The judge may hold the defendant without bail, although this is typically reserved for the most egregious crimes, or the judge may set a bail amount.

If you or a loved one has been arrested and would like assistance navigating bail and bond processes, contact an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney. Attorney Hal Garfinkel is a former prosecutor who is now dedicated to helping accused clients get the representation they deserve at every stage of their case, from arraignment and bond hearings, through the final verdict and appeals. Call 312-270-0999 for a free consultation today.

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