Why is bail so expensive and what affects the cost of bail?

Being arrested is one of the most traumatic experiences in somebody’s life. Finding oneself behind bars, facing a range of criminal charges, the last thing one wants to worry about is how much it will cost to get out of jail. 

Yet, that is an unfortunate reality for many people in the United States where bail costs can be exorbitant. 

But why is bail so expensive? Is there a reason for such a high bail cost? Let’s break it down.

How Bail Works

Firstly, let us explain how bail works. When somebody is arrested, they are taken into custody, and the court sets an amount of money that must be paid to be released until their trial. This amount is known as bail, and usually, only a fraction of it needs to be paid upfront to post bail. The rest can be paid through a bail bond company that charges a fee, usually 10% of the total bail amount. This fee is non-refundable and can be a significant expense. 

However, if you have the full bail amount and don’t want to work with a bail bondsman, you can pay the full bail amount directly to the court. Although the bail money won’t be returned until after all court proceedings are concluded, it will be refunded in full.

Factors That Affect Bail Costs

Several factors can affect the cost of bail, including the severity of the crime committed, the risk of flight, past criminal history, and the defendant’s financial resources. For example, if you have committed assault and have a history of assault, then your bail will likely be much higher than someone who has committed a misdemeanor for the first time. 

The amount of bail is set so that it is high enough to ensure that the defendant will appear in court but not so high that it is unreasonable or unconstitutional. 

Keep Reading: Why would someone have a 2 million dollar bail? 

Bail algorithms

In some situations, there are various algorithms that are used to set bail amounts. These algorithms take into account a variety of factors, such as the nature of the crime, the defendant’s previous criminal record, and their likelihood to flee if released on bail. 

While these algorithms are intended to be fair and impartial, they can sometimes result in bail amounts that are higher than they should be. For example, someone who has a relatively minor criminal record but is charged with a serious crime might be given a higher bail amount simply because of the algorithm.

Related Content: How much does a bail bond cost in California?

Court fees

In addition to bail bond fees, there are also court fees that can make bail even more expensive. When someone is arrested, they are typically charged with a variety of different crimes, all of which carry their own fees and fines. For example, if someone is arrested for DUI, they might be charged with reckless driving, driving without a license, and other related offenses, each of which carries a separate fee. These fees can add up quickly, making it even more difficult for someone to pay for bail.

The Impact of Bail Bond Companies

Many people who cannot afford bail on their own turn to bail bond companies to secure their release. Bail bond companies often require some form of collateral, such as property or a car, in return for guaranteeing the individual’s release. It is important to only work with a bail bond company that is properly licensed and following all state laws and regulations. 

You’ll also want to find one that is actually willing to help. For example, do they offer different payment options, do they work 24/7, and are they well-connected? You want to secure a safe and fast release that works for you and your specific financial situation.

Keep Reading: Do you get your bail money back in California?