When a person is arrested, usually the first thought is how to get out of jail. Bail, even in a routine felony cases, may be $150,000 or more. That is because the bail of an accused is determined at first not by the seriousness of the charges, but by a bail schedule adopted by the courts. I had a client recently who was accused of discharging a fire extinguisher in a hotel and who had his bail set at $175,000 even though no one was injured and he had no prior criminal record. No criminal charges have been filed to date.
While none us want to stay in jail, you should often resist the temptation to immediately post bail for several reasons. First, often criminal charges will not be filed, and if you have posted bail, your money is gone. The standard premium on a bail bond is 8-10% so in the case of my client in the hotel, if he had posted bail, he would have immediately lost at least $15,000.
Second, often when clients reach me , they have often exhausted all of their funds on bail. The bondsman essentially makes his money by sitting in an easy chair and writing nothing more than a financial contract. In contrast, your attorney will work for you by making court appearances and fighting to get you the best result possible. Is it better to post a bond to be free for a few weeks and have no money to hire a good attorney or to win your case and not have to return to jail at all?
Finally, what the bondsman won’t tell you is that many times the court will raise your bail after you have already posted it. I once had a taxi driver client who was accused of rape. By the time he hired me, he had already posted $25,000. The prosecutor added three more alleged victims to the complaint at the next court hearing and they raised his bail to $50,000. Again, against my advice, he posted the additional bail. Finally, after the preliminary hearing, his bail was raised to $100,000. He had no more money so he remained in jail.
Remember that a good attorney can often reduce your bail, especially when you have a minimal criminal record. I had a client that posted $500,000 bail for shooting his nephew on Christmas day. Because of his lack of criminal record and the circumstances of his case, I probably could have had his bail reduced to 100,000 or less. Any attorney Samuel Spital, who is of counsel of my firm, once achieved a reduction in bail from $1,000,000 to $1,000. While every case is different, in many cases we are able to achieve a very substantial bail reduction for a client.
There are times that a bail bond is helpful for instance when a person is arrested on low bail, such as a drunk driving charge and doesn’t want to spend a weekend in the county jail.
The bail bondsman has an important role to play at times, but remember it is the long term freedom of the client that is most important.
Remember, at the Law Office of Russell S. Babcock we will work hard to reduce your bail and advise you if posting bail is right for your or your loved one.