If you are accused of or arrested for a crime in the State of Utah, release from jail by posting cash bail or posting a bail bond are both options to consider. Utah’s bail bond system is complex and can be confusing. Know what to expect before you make any decisions.
What is bail in a criminal court case?
Cash bail and bail bonds are meant to allow an arrested person to be released from custody during the pendency of a criminal case, while still providing assurances and incentives for the person to appear in court as required.
When a bail amount is set, bail can be posted either as a “cash bail” or by bond. When the case is completed, if the defendant has appeared in court when required, the bail or bail bond will be exonerated (refunded back to the person or bond company that posted the bail or bond). This exoneration of bail applies even if the defendant is convicted.
What if I can’t afford bail?
Many times a defendant or his/her family cannot afford to give a court the entire amount of bail. A bail bond company can provide an alternative to posting the full cash bail.
In most cases, in exchange for paying a fee, a bail bond company can post a bond with the court for the full bail amount. Most Utah bond companies charge a fee of about 10% of the total bail amount.
For example, if the court sets bail at $10,000, a bond company will charge a fee to the defendant of $1,000. This fee is generally not refundable. The bond company then posts with the court a bond for the full $10,000 bail amount.
What can a bond company do if I don’t appear in court?
Fees charged by a bail bond company represent the risk the bond company takes on. Utah law provides that if a defendant fails to appear in court and remains “fugitive” for 90 days (with exceptions), the bail bond company will forfeit to the court the full $10,000 bail amount.
Even though a bail bond company earns a profit by charging fees in exchange for their willingness to post a bond for the full bail amount, the bond company still does not want to forfeit the full bail amount when a defendant fails to appear in court.
The bond company has a clear incentive to make efforts to ensure that the defendant shows up for each court hearing. If a defendant fails to appear, a bond company may actively work to apprehend and bring the defendant back before the court before the 90-day period expires.
Before agreeing to post a bail bond, the bond company will assess the risks involved in posting bail in the case. The defendant’s prior criminal history, record of appearing (or failing to appear) in court, ties to the local community, and other factors may all be considered. Depending on the risk level involved, the bond company may required collateral or a co-signer.
Do I need a bail bond company if I have already have a defense attorney?
Bail bond companies and attorneys serve very different purposes. But they can also work together to reach a better solution.
A specific agreement with a bond company to post bond at a reduced amount can be a factor a court may consider in addressing a defendant’s motion to reduce bail. A bond company may work with defense lawyers to help keep bail bond costs affordable. Sometimes, a defense attorney can facilitate communication and the exchange of necessary information between a bail bond company and an arrested person’s family members or friends.
Finding a Bail Bond Company in Utah
Not all bail bond companies are equal, and not all bail bond agreements contain the same terms or conditions. Some may be more onerous than others.
Be sure to investigate any bail bond company that you are considering working with. Always be sure to understand the terms of any agreement before you sign on the dotted line. And when you have questions, get good legal advice.
Call Canyons Law Group for more information and for help with your case.