Bail bonds 101

Bail Bonds
Knowing your rights and what to expect from the bail bonds process is important if your in a situation where quick action needs to be taken. | Image courtesy: Philadelphia Bail Bonds

How does bail bonds work in Philadelphia?

Bail is the temporary release of an incarcerated inmate who is awaiting trial for a criminal offense he or she is accused of committing. Individuals who want to bail out of jail to await their trial must pay the bail amount set forth by the court.

The bail amount is based on numerous factors, like the accused prior criminal record (if any,) the type of charge, the likelihood a person will return to court, etc. Bail amount is set within 48-hours of an arrest after appearing before a judge or magistrate who decides the bail amount and any special requirements.

Some people receive an “ROR” bond, or Release on own Recognizance.” An ROR release requires the defendant sign paperwork agreeing to appear in court on the scheduled date and time. However, no money or bond is necessary for jail release. Judges often grant ROR release to individuals without any prior criminal history.

Posting a Bail Bond in PA

Most individuals call a bail bondsman to post bail for them rather than paying the fee directly to the court. Doing so has ample benefits, including reduced costs. Bondsmen charge just 10% of the original bond amount whereas paying the court directly requires the full dollar amount of the bail. For example, if the judge sets bond at $20,000, you must pay the entire amount to the court for jail release. A bondsman needs only $2,000 to post bond for jail release. Keep in mind bondsman add a small service fee onto each bail, not to exceed $50.

People call upon help from a bail bondsman when they do not have the full cash amount available to pay to the court or when they simply like the idea of saving money.

Bondsman Available 24/7/365

Bondsmen work 24/7, offering Philadelphia bail bonds any time of the day or night. Just give a bondsman a call and he’ll come to the jail to post your bond and complete paperwork in the middle of the night, on a holiday, or during other times when the courthouse may be closed or otherwise unavailable. Imagine the frustration of sitting behind bars extra days because the courthouse is closed for business! They open each day during regular business hours so any hopes of getting out of jail after this time is slim to none.

Some bondsman companies require a co-signer on the bond, but most do not. Keep in mind that some bondsmen in Philadelphia will not post bond for certain criminal charges, including a Failure to Appear (FTA) charge. With the plethora of bail bondsman in the city, finding someone to bond you out regardless of the criminal charge at hand should not prove too difficult.

Bail Bonds Paperwork: Return to Court

Bondsman post bail for clients in good faith that they will return to court on the scheduled appearance date. Failure to do so results in bond revocation and re-arrest in most cases, although the judge has the discretion to reset the court date if he so chooses. You then stay in jail without bond until the scheduled court appearance. Signing the paperwork for a bond agrees that you will return at the time and date indicated on the paperwork.

Once you pay the bondsman and complete all necessary paperwork, the jail processes the information and release occurs within a few hours. The length of time it takes from posting bond to release varies and depends considerably on how busy the Philadelphia Detention Center is at the time of the release. It may take longer to complete the process if bonding out in another city or state.

Third Option for Posting Bail Bonds

Another bail option is a property bond. Property bonds available only in Philadelphia through a bail bonds agent or the local court. A person who posts a property bond must own property of value and agrees to surrender the property in the event they do not appear in court. Land, houses, cars, jewelry, and other items of value are often accepted as collateral for a bond.

What is Needed to Post a Bail Bond in Philadelphia?

Anyone over the age 18 may post a bail bond for your release from jail. The person must possess a valid photo identification. Defendants may post their own bail if they so choose. Anyone who signs a bail bond agrees to the terms and conditions outlined in the contract. The bondsman will cover this information ahead of jail release.

You should know the name of the jail of incarceration and if possible, have the inmate ID number handy. A bondsman or court clerk can access this information, but it slows down the release process. Bring the information with you to speed up the process and make things easier on everyone.

Is a Bail Bond Returned?

In Philadelphia, 70% of the bond amount is returned to the defendant after adjudication of the case. If the defendant owes court fees or fines, these monies usually are deducted before the bond is returned. This rule applies only to cash bail bonds. Any bond made with a local bonding company is non-refundable under any circumstances. Contact the local court to learn more about the return process.

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