Georgia Bail Bond Process
The bonding process in Georgia can be confusing. The purpose of a “bond” is to provide a financial guarantee that you will return to court for all of your appearances until your case is completed or dismissed. You, or a family member, pays the bail amount and if you do not show up for court, the court will keep the bail and issue a warrant for your arrest.
So, this is how it works. You are arrested for shoplifting and booked into the jail. When you place a call, you contact family who, in turn, contacts a bonding company. After your first appearance in court, your bail will be set at a specific dollar amount so that your family member can work out the arrangement with the bond company for your release while you await your court date. Many times, your case will be settled prior to that date but in the event that it is not, the bail allows you to stay out of jail during the time leading up to and during your time in court.
The purpose of a bail is not meant to be punitive. It is actually so that you can remain free from jail during your case. This allows you to actively participate in the defense of your case. It also helps with overcrowding in jails which is a major problem in Georgia and across the country.
How is the Bail Amount Determined?
Attorneys and courts often use the terms bail and bond interchangeably but there is a distinction. The bail money is the amount of money you pay to the court for the “guarantee” that you will return for your court date(s) until the case is concluded. The bond is the pledge that a bondsman makes to pay on your behalf in the event you do not pay. Typically speaking, the bond is 10-15% of the bail amount.
The court has the full authority to set the bond amount. Some jurisdictions have a bond schedule for specific crimes so you do not have to wait to appear before the judge but that is not done in all cases. At any rate, it is only the judge that can set the bond. The police, sheriff or any of the arresting officers have no part of this process.
The judge takes several factors into consideration when setting the bond. First and foremost is the question of whether the defendant is likely to run and avoid trial. To answer that he or she looks at the following:
- What ties does the person have in the community?
- Is there family here? What family?
- How long has the person lived here?
- What is the job status? How long has the person worked at the particular job?
- What is the person’s criminal history? are the crimes escalating?
- Is this current crime a violent crime?
- Seriousness of the crime
- Ability to pay
- Public Safety
- Defendants propensity to harm someone
- Is this crime even eligible for bond? (some crimes are not eligible by statute)
Types of Bail Bonds
There are 4 types of bail bonds that can be utilized to secure your release from jail in Georgia.
Cash Bond – allows you to pay the entire balance. The benefit of this is that at the conclusion of the case, having been to all court proceedings, you get all of your money back, regardless of the outcome. Most bonds companies do not take cards or checks…cash means cash.
Property Bond – allows you or someone else to present a warranty deed, current tax statement or other proof of ownership on property with the appropriate value to secure your release. The downfall is that if you miss your court date, the house or property is gone.
Own Recognizance– this option is where the judge allows you to sign a form stating that you will come to court. The judge basically takes you at your word. This is mostly used in small misdemeanor cases. You won’t see this in violent crimes and usually not in felonies.
Bondsman – When there are no other options, a professional bondsman can be contacted to post the bond. They usually charge anywhere between 12-15% which is non-refundable. This charge is their fee because they are taking a personal risk in the event you do not show up for court.
Contact Us Now If Your Family Member Is Incarcerated
If you, or a loved one, finds yourself in a situation involving traffic tickets, a DUI, driving without insurance or other criminal matters, contact our office. David Crawford has the knowledge, experience and compassion to help see that your rights are protected. There is no reason to skip out on your bail. Attorney David Crawford’s will fight for your rights.