When an individual is arrested for a crime, typically that person will be taken to a local law enforcement station for booking, prior to incarceration in a station lock-up or county jail. Once arrested and booked, the defendant has several options for release pending the conclusion of his or her case.
The bail system
is designed to guarantee the appearance of a criminal defendant in court at the time the judge directs.
The three basic release options available to an arrestee are:
To be released on cash bail, an individual must post with the court the total amount of the bail, in cash, to secure his or her return to court on an appointed date, and thereafter until the case is concluded. Full cash bonds provide a powerful incentive for defendants to appear at trial. If the defendant shows up for his/her scheduled court appearances, the cash is returned to him/her. If s/he fails to appear, the cash bond is forfeited to the court.
An alternative to cash bail is the posting of a surety bond. This process involves a contractual undertaking guaranteed by an admitted insurance company having adequate assets to satisfy the face value of the bond. The bail agent guarantees to the court that they will pay the bond forfeiture if a defendant fails to appear for their scheduled court appearances. The bail agents guarantee is made through a surety company and/or by the pledge of property owned by the agent.
There is another method of release pending trial that is through the county or law enforcement agency that occurs pre-trial. One of these programs will interview the defendant that is currently in custody and advise the court as to whether or not a release should be granted on their personal recognizance (having no financial guarantee that the defendant would return).
The phone interview usually does not take up much time as they look briefly into the background of the defendant. The questions are designed to determine the likelihood of the detainee appearing in court. Verifying the information provided by the defendant is usually not necessary. The defendant, in this scenario, would not be offering up any assets to secure their appearance in court. This means there are no economic consequences if they decide to not show up in court.