Monday, September 12, 2011

Minnesota Cash Bail & Bond (Explained)

Maybe it is a good thing you don't have the day-to-day familiarity I have with what goes on inside a courtroom - that is until you need to know to protect yourself or someone you love.  Here is a little lesson on Minnesota Bail and Bonds.  To know more, contact and experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney.

What is Bail?
Generally speaking, bail is an amount of money paid to the court by a person charged with a crime to insure that he will comply with certain conditions of release - like  returning to court as ordered.  Essentially the idea is that if someone has some "skin in the game" and/or money at stake - that that person will do what the court tells him to do - or run the risk losing that money.

How Much Bail Will I Have to Pay?  
Bail amounts are based on two things: (i.) the likelihood that the offender will show up for any/all future court hearings; and (ii.) matters related to public safety.  If the person arrested is from out of state (or some distance from where the alleged crime took place,) has a history of failing to appear for court hearings in the past, and/or has no permanent address, the court will strongly examine  whether that individual will return for their next hearing - and bail will be set accordingly. If the crime is serious one (ie., crimes of violence and/or large drug crimes) or the person arrested has a pattern of criminal conduct, then the court will often find that there are public safety concerns and set a substantial bail.

The System is Fair, Right?
In theory, what've I've described here sounds fair, no? The problem for the accused is that most bail hearings are conducted with only the government's lawyer and judge there and high bail is often the result.  And, once that big number is out there, it’s hard to change.  Although I have seen bail amounts reduced at subsequent hearings - it's not that easy.  Getting the amount of bail reduced is an uphill battle. If it is at all possible, if you or a friend has been arrested, call an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney before the bail hearing.

What’s the Difference between Cash Bail and a Bond?
Once bail has been set, it can be posted in one of two ways: by paying the full amount in cash or by buying a "bail" bond. When cash is posted, that amount is returned to the person charged after the case is done. When a bond is purchased, the person charged buys a bond (for usually about 10% of the bail amount) from a licensed bail bond agent and the amount paid for that bond is not returned.  The purchasing of a bond creates a legal contract between the bond company and the court saying, if the offender does not comply with their conditions of release (like coming back to court) then the bond company has to pay the court the entire bond amount.

What Should You Do?
If you or someone you care about has been arrested or criminally charged, don’t go to court and “test the waters” to see what may or may not happen.  This is not one of those things you want to take lightly. Call the Rolloff Law Office before your first court appearance to ensure that your rights are protected.

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