Updated October 25, 2019
If a person is arrested in San Marcos, that person is able to be released from jail on “bail.” Bail is assigned to a person on the expectation that the arrested person later is required to appear in court, similar to a refundable deposit on a rental. Following a court appearance, the bail money is returned. If the person is unable to afford bail, they may receive assistance from “bail bonds.” This article covers the bail process, how bail bonds work, and the next steps after bail has been posted.
So what is bail exactly?
Essentially, bail is a set of funds paid to have a person released from jail, prior to their court appearance. Generally, bail is paid with a bond, cash, or even property. Once bail has been posted, the person who has been arrested is released. They are free until the day they are expected to appear back in court.
The bail amount and whether it is even an option is decided by a judge, who will take into account the nature of the crime and the flight risk posed by the person accused. More serious crimes tend to have higher bail amounts, and people who are considered at high risk of not showing up to their court appearance may be denied bail. If this happens, the person will be required to remain in jail until their appearance in court.
Once posted, bail is kept by the court until the person who was arrested appears in court. Assuming this person appears for a hearing, they are returned the bail from the court. Failure to appear in court can lead to a warrant being set for this person’s arrest.
What are bail bonds and how do they work?
When people do not have the needed amount of cash required to post bail, bail bond agencies in San Marcos can help. Bail bonds are documents that say that a particular bail bond agency will pay the amount if the accused does not show up in court.
Generally, bail bond agencies in San Marcos require 10 to 15% of the total bail fee in order to issue a bond. This is known as a premium that bail bond agencies charge for a bail bond. This premium or collateral can be paid in cash, jewelry, cars, stocks, or just about anything of economic value.
For people who cannot afford the 10 to 15%, some bail bond companies offer payment plans that allow the person to pay off their debt month by month.
How is bail set?
Local courts set estimated bails for individual crimes, varying county by county. It goes without saying, the severity of the crime has much to do with how bail is set.
Bail schedules are useful for recommending bail amounts, but a judge will make the final decision on the bail amount. Here are three major factors judges will consider when setting bail:
- The criminal record of the arrested person. If the person arrested has a history of run-ins with the law, it is almost certain he or she will have a higher bail amount.
- Previous court appearances – that is to say, a person’s history of appearing in court. If a person has failed to appear in earlier court appearances, this is a sure way to have a bail amount increased or denied.
- Connection to the local community. If a person has a job or close family where they live, they are much more likely to appear to their court date.
With this in mind, a judge can have the bail amount set higher if they feel that the increased amount will make the arrested person more motivated to show up in court.
Who can bail you out of jail and when?
There are basically 3 people who can bail you out of jail including:
- Yourself (the person who was arrested)
Alternatively, if a bail bond is being used, a bail bondsman will pay for bail. At this point, the person paying for the bail bond will then need to make payments to the bail bond agency fronting the cost of bail.
What happens after bail has been posted?
After a person’s bail has been posted, they are free to return home, back to work and their everyday life. Some restrictions do apply: you aren’t allowed to leave the state unless given permission due to extenuating circumstances, if your license was revoked or suspended when you were arrested you still aren’t allowed to drive, etc. Of course, the person who was bailed out will need to show up to scheduled court dates. If they do not appear in court, the bail will be forfeited and a warrant may be released for their arrest.
It’s important to understand that forfeiting bail does not just mean losing money. It could mean further criminal charges.