- ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ABOUT BAIL BONDS
If you have questions about bail bonds or the bail bonding process, we hope this page can provide some help. Below are answers to questions we have heard from those looking for a bondsmen. The information is fairly general so it’s best to call if you have specific concerns or need further assistance. Our professional bail bond agents are standing by to assist you anywhere in Colorado Springs, Castle Rock, Pueblo or the greater metro areas.
DEFINITION OF BAIL
Bail is an amount of money or other asset that is deposited or ‘posted’ with a court by a person who has been charged with a crime. It is possible to deposit bail on behalf of another person. The money or asset is the defendant’s guarantee of his or her presence at all court proceedings. Typically, the charged party will be held in legal custody until bail money or a bail asset has been accepted by the court.
THE RIGHT TO RELEASE ON BAIL
For a majority of offenses, excepting murder and certain violent felonies, the charged party will be released from custody as soon as bail money or a bail asset is accepted by the court.
HOW THE BAIL AMOUNT IS DETERMINED
The amount of bail money or necessary value of bail asset is set by a judge at the first court appearance. It is the court’s responsibility to determine what amount will be sufficient to guarantee the defendant’s presence at all scheduled court proceedings. Typically, the circumstances surrounding the alleged crime and an individual’s life circumstances will be two of the determining factors. The relative safety of the community and the defendant’s prior arrest record will also be factored in.
COMMON TYPES OF BAIL BONDS
A bail bond is how a defendant guarantees his or her presence at court proceedings. The most common type is an “appearance bond.” A friend, relative, or a bail bonding agent can post an appearance bond on behalf of a defendant. It is sometimes possible to obtain a “personal recognizance bond” or a “property bond” when permitted by the court
PERSONAL RECOGNIZANCE BONDS
A “personal recognizance bond,” permits the defendant’s release from custody on “personal recognizance” or a promise to appear as required by a court. This type of bond must be authorized by a court and voids the need to deposit money or an asset. If the defendant fails to appear at any court proceedings an arrest warrant will be issued. In any case involving defendant’s prior conviction of a felony within the last 5 years, defendant’s prior conviction of a class 1 misdemeanor within the last 2 years, felony charges, class 1 misdemeanor charges, or defendant’s previous failure to appear on a bail bond will require the district attorney’s consent to obtain a personal recognizance bond.
If allowed by a court, defendants may deposit valued property to guarantee appearance at all court proceedings. Property bonds may only be obtained from a court and will be held by the clerk until a verdict has been reached. Some jurisdictions allow unencumbered equity in Colorado real estate to serve as a property bond. Equity of no less than 1&1/2 times the bail amount is required. Some courts do not allow real estate to be used as a property bond. Requirements and procedures for property bonds vary between jurisdictions.
BAIL BONDING AGENTS
A bail bonding agent is authorized to deposit a defendant’s appearance bond as a guarantee that he or she will appear whenever required. Bail bonding agents are paid a premium, which is usually nonrefundable, to post the bond. Agents must be licensed by the State in which they operate and have an appointment from an insurance company or be a qualified cash bonding agent. If the defendant fails to appear, the court may order the bond “forfeited” and require the bail bond agent to fulfill the full amount of the bond. Bail bonding agents have the right to apprehend, return the defendant to custody, or use collateral taken for the bond to pay the bond forfeiture and costs.
All defendants must agree to meet certain requirements known as “conditions.” The most important of these is personal appearance at all court proceedings. Failure to attend hearings may result in an arrest warrant being issued and loss of the entire bond amount. In addition, “Failure to Appear,” is a criminal offense that can be added to the defendant’s existing sentence and result in imprisonment of 6 months to 1 year as well as loss of eligibility for probation or suspended sentence. (’18-8-212, C.R.S.) Other standard conditions a defendant must agree to include staying in the state in which they were convicted while released on bail and acknowledging the existence of a mandatory restraining order that prohibits contact with the alleged victim and witnesses. Lastly, defendants are typically required to send immediate notification to the court if there is any change in residence or mailing addresses.
APPEAR AT ALL COURT HEARINGS
The most important condition of a bond is the defendant’s agreement to personally appear at each and every court proceeding. The defendant is responsible for knowing when and where those hearings will take place.
FAILURE TO APPEAR AS REQUIRED
If a defendant fails to appear in court a warrant for arrest may be issued, bond may be revoked, or the amount required for bond may be increased. In addition, a completely new crime, known as “failure to appear” may be charged. Lastly, the entire bail bond may be forfeited and the valued property or amount of money deposited may be lost.
MISSED COURT APPEARANCE
If you or someone you know has missed a court appearance, it is important to act quickly. If bond was posted by a bail bonding agent, contact them first, right away. The bail bonding agent may choose to arrange for “consent of surety” which you can to the court clerk. Upon receiving consent of surety from your bail bonding agent, the clerk may issue you a new court date. If you posted bond personally then go to the court clerk immediately and try to make arrangements for a new appearance date. Be aware that a warrant was probably issued for your arrest and “Failure to Appear” may have been charged. For more Colorado Bail Bond information download the following PDF from the State of Colorado website: http://www.dora.state.co.us/insurance/pb/bail.pdf