When someone is arrested, he or she is first taken to a police station to be booked. When a suspect is booked, or processed, a police officer records information about the suspect (name, address, birthday, appearance) and the alleged crime. The police officer conducts a criminal background check, takes the suspect’s fingerprints and mug shot and seizes and inventories any personal property, which will be returned when the suspect is released. The suspect is also checked to see if he or she is intoxicated and usually is allowed to make a phone call. Finally, an officer puts the suspect in a jail cell, usually with other recently booked suspects.
For less serious crimes, a suspect may be allowed to post bail immediately after being booked. Otherwise, the suspect will have to wait (usually less than 48 hours) for a bail hearing where a judge will determine if the accused is eligible for bail and at what cost.
The amount of bail depends on the severity of the crime but is also at the judge’s discretion. In determining bail, a judge may take into account this amount but will also consider the defendant’s criminal record (if any), his or her history of showing up for past court appearances, ties to the community, whether the suspect is a danger to others and any other concerns that may be raised by the defendant’s attorney. In some cases, bail may be waived altogether.
Once arrested, the accused is taken to jail and booked. This process includes taking and inventorying any personal property, fingerprinting, and a mug shot. The latter two are used to acquire any known previous legal infractions which in turn is considered when setting bail. At this point, the accused may contact an attorney or wait in custody to be appointed one by the court. With either route, the defendant will remain in custody until bail is set. Certain crimes do not allow bail due to severity.
Once the value is set, the defendant may pay bail in full out-of-pocket if possible or have someone cover the total cost on their behalf. If one is unable to pay to total cost of bail, a bond may be acquired through a licensed bondsman or insurance company. At this point, the bondsman takes over responsibility for both release of the defendant and their appearance to scheduled court dates. In return for this service, a fraction of the bail is submitted as payment to the bond’s provider and they are reimbursed the value of the bond at the conclusion of the case.
Successfully bailing out of jail places the defendant back into their daily life. Instead of passively waiting for trial, this process allows them to continue their life as usual while handling the consequences of an abrupt arrest. As soon as the amount is set, the process can begin and reduce the amount of time the defendant spends away from personal responsibilities.
After posting bail, all personal items are returned and they are released from police custody. At this point, the best course of action is to adhere to all laws and appear on all scheduled court dates. Breaking this contract will result in stricter penalties and raised fines, increasing the burden of an already stressful incident and the chance of another incarceration. The process finally completes when the case is over and bail is returned to the poster.
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