How does bail work?

How does bail work?

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Suppose that Michigan law enforcement arrests you.  Will you have to pay money before going home.  Although there are efforts underway to eliminate cash bail, cash bail is widly utilized today in Michigan Courts. The Courts will consider a variety of factors when determining your bail amount.


Generally, bail is set to ensure that someone appears for court and to ensure the safety of the community.  Therefore, your local ties, including residency, family status, employment, and other community ties are critical.  When considering safety, Courts look to things like the nature of the allegations, the quality and quantity of the evidence against you, drug / alcohol abuse, and your criminal history.  Once your case is over you receive your bail amount back, but you may have to pay a processing fee.  Or, if you were convicted, you can apply the bail money toward fines and costs.

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Special bail conditions

Occasionally, judges attach special conditions to bail. For instance, the defendant may have to refrain from contacting the alleged victim.  Drug and alcohol testing is common.  Sometimes a tether is required.  Standard conditions also include not being able to leave the state without the Court’s permission.

There are also instances in which the defendant is released without having to pay bail, known as the defendant’s own recognizance. Even though the person does not have to pay bail, the defendant must still appear for all hearings and trial. Magistrates and judges offer this option when the accused is a low flight risk and is not accused of a violent crime.

Additionally, based on my experience I believe that people who have a retained attorney at their initial appearance and bond hearing have a better chance of going home without paying money than persons that do not have retained counsel.

Bail Bond Companies

Sometimes, defendants cannot pay the entirety of their bail alone. Those who need financial assistance often turn to a bail bondsperson to help cover the difference. Typically, a family member of friend of the accused pays at least 10% of the total bail amount to the bond company. The bondsperson covers the rest if the defendant fails to appear for court.

Getting a reasonable bond or not having to pay anything to go home is a vital part of any criminal case.  In my experience, having a retained criminal defense attorney from the very start is an important part of whether you will be given a bond.  If you or a loved one is arrested, or learns of a pending law enforcement investigation without being arrested, contact an experienced Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney immediately.  Your freedom may depend on it.