Not everyone knows how the bail process works in U.S. It’s actually fairly easy to learn, but very important if a friend or loved one is arrested. While exact procedure can vary slightly from state to state, here are the common three steps of the bail process.
Step #1: Post Arrest Processing
After the initial arrest, a suspect is taken a police station for “booking”, where the personal information questioning, criminal background checks, fingerprinting, and initial crime investigation takes place. This is the point in time that you can arrange to consult with an attorney. For serious offenses, a suspect will often be placed in a holding cell or taken to a local prison awaiting trial.
Step #2: Setting the Price of Bail
If a judge warrants a particular offender should be required to pay bail prior to their release, a price will be set. Bail is used as a tool to guarantee a suspect will appear at their scheduled court date, and the price will vary depending on the weight of the crime. At this point, a suspect may either arrange to pay the full price of the bail or contract a bail bondsman to pay it for them (for a percentage of the cost).
Step #3: Court Appearance
Assuming bail is paid, the suspect is then released to appear at a later court date. If the offender paid the full amount of the bail, the sum will be returned after they show up to their scheduled court appearance. If a bail bondsman was hired instead, they bail company will retain the percentage the suspect paid them.