What is Bail?
Bail is something of value given to the jail for the release of a defendant. It’s like collateral that’s held to guarantee defendants return to court. In Nevada this collateral is either cash or a bail bond.
What is a Bail Bond?
A Bail Bond is also called a “Surety Bond.” It’s an insurance policy to the court. This policy is guaranteed by an Insurance Company and generated by a licensed Bail Agent.
The Bail Agent guarantees that the defendant will show up on the court date and that the defendant is compliant with court ordered restrictions. If a court date is missed and not fixed the Bail Agent could lose the entire Bail Bond amount to the court.
What does a Bail Bond cost?
Under Nevada Law (NRS 697.300) the cost of a Bail Bond is set at 15% of the face value of the Bail Bond, but not less than $50. Bail Agents are precluded by law from charging either more or less and are ultimately responsible for the collection of the entire 15%.
Most Bail Agents will assist with a small minimum payment down and incremental payments to pay off the 15%.
For Example: For a $5,000 Bail Bond, the 15% cost is $750. Typically, would be $100-$300 down payment with estimated payments of $50 every two weeks – no finance charges.
Sometimes, when collateral is pledged, such as a car (title), the zero money down option is made available.
In this $5,000 Bail Bond example, the Bail Agent and a cosigner would be responsible to pay $5,000 if the defendant does not show up at court and disappears forever. Most defendants who simply miss a court date, for whatever reasons, are helped to get a new court date.
How is a Bail Bond obtained?
Before a defendant is “bailed out” of jail, a cosigner is needed as a guarantor. The cosigner is put through an interview and application process with the Bail Agent where the Agent determines:
- Is the defendant a flight risk?
- Is the defendant a danger to the community?
- Where does the defendant live, work, family and background?
- Does the defendant have a prior record or Failures to Appear?
- Is the cosigner willing to be responsible for the defendant and their Bail Bond?
The Bail Agent collects all of the cosigner’s and defendant’s information on an application. The cosigner then also executes a Bail Bond Agreement.
The cosigner is ultimately responsible for the full monetary value of the Bail Bond in case the defendant does not show up to court or is not compliant with court-ordered restrictions.
A cosigner is usually a defendant’s family member or close friend; someone who has intimate or long-term knowledge about the defendant.
This cosigner provides personal information about themselves, and also about the defendant, on an application which is verified by the Bail Agent who then has, at a minimum, the following information about both:
- Phone numbers (landline and cell)
- Work (position, address, phone number, supervisor’s name/number, etc.)
- References (parents, family, friends, address, phone number, etc.)
- Documents that verify (Phone/Power Bill, Pay-Stub, License, Registration, Lease, etc.)
- Sometimes collateral is pledged
The Bail Agent then determines if this information is satisfactory to take the risk of putting up a Bail Bond for the release of the defendant. The cosigner then signs a Bail Bond Agreement which makes them responsible for:
- The defendant’s appearance in court and observance of any court imposed restrictions.
- Reporting any violations of court-imposed restrictions to the Bail Agent, who has the authority to put the defendant back into custody.
- Paying the full Bail Bond amount if the defendant does not return to court.
- Providing information that leads to the apprehension of defendant if the cosigner does not want to be responsible to pay the full Bail Bond Amount
This rigorous cosigner-interview-application process is a vital part of creating accountability in the pretrial release process of the defendant.
Sometimes, cosigners do not want to be responsible for the release of the defendant, and that signals to the Bail Agent that the defendant should probably remain in custody.
What happens after a defendant has been bailed?
After release from jail the defendant is required to report to the Bail Agent’s office to fill out his application and execute the Bail Agreement.
The defendant will then have to report periodically (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly) to the office to see the Bail Agent and the Bail Agent may also do random checks at the defendant’s home or work.
The liability of the Bail Bond ends when the defendant is sentenced or when the court exonerates the bond.
What happens if the defendant does not show up to court?
The cosigner is immediately notified to inquire about the cause of no-show to court.
If it was a mistake, the defendant is helped to get a new court date.
If the defendant “ran away,” the cosigner is put on notice that they are now responsible to possibly having to pay the full Bail Bond.
The cosigner and the Bail Agent have 180 days, by law, to find and apprehend the defendant before having to pay the Bail Bond.
Why Use a Bail Bond?
- Accountability: It creates responsibility in the release process through cosigners, collateral and the Bail Agent
- It’s the fastest way to get defendants out of jail, back to work and with their families.
- It’s affordable (low or no money down)
- It guarantees court appearance (through cosigners, collateral and Bail Agent)
- Bail Agents monitor defendants, and so does the cosigner(s)
- It guarantees compliance with court ordered restrictions
- Violations can be immediately remedied by Bail Agents
- There is zero cost to taxpayers
- It’s the least restrictive form of release
- It’s active until sentencing
- It preserves the “presumption of innocence” where no overbearing government is monitoring and restricting the accused
What is the Alternative to a Bail Bond?
There are only two alternative jail releases:
- Own Recognizance (O.R.) release: Where a defendant is just let out of jail and told to come back to their court date.
- Monitored release: Where a defendant is released to House Arrest (overseen by the police department) and a GPS monitor is put on the defendant’s ankle. This process usually takes an additional 2-7 days before the defendant is being released.
Alternative Jail Release Concerns
- No knowledge that the defendant is fit to be released because of no cosigners to tell you the defendant should not be released and is better off in jail.
- No financial reason for the defendant to ever show back up to court because there’s no cosigner or collateral.
- House Arrest DOES NOT pursue offenders that cut their GPS monitors off and go on the run. Offenders know there’s no law enforcement actively looking for them; whereas with a Bail Bond, Bail Enforcement Agents are actively looking for the offender.
- GPS monitors are restrictive, degrading and susceptible to an officer’s biases. If the officer does not like you, they can put you back in jail.
- GPS monitors have the capability to “listen” in and record conversations to a cloud-based system and use the information against defendants. (ABA article 04/09/2019: “GPS ankle monitors can call and record people without consent; do they violate 5th Amendment?”)
- Defendants who are not deemed indigent are forced to pay for the GPS monitors at about $300-400 per month, which most of the time is more expensive than an actual Bail Bond.
- Civil Rights violations by forcing defendants to sign away their rights in order to get released on the GPS-monitored House Arrest Program. They are forced on monitored-release even though no charges have been filed and do not have the option for Bail any longer. (See Clark County Detention Center Electronic Monitoring Inmate Contract)
- GPS Monitored House Arrest is considered a form of incarceration
- Poor defendants are losing their government benefits, such as welfare, food stamps, social security etc.
- Ever-increasing cost to taxpayers to fund, maintain and expand a GPS-monitored House Arrest pre-trail release program.
- Law enforcement being overwhelmed with arresting defendants on warrants instead of spending time actively policing.
- Ever-encroaching big government into people’s lives, whereas a Bail Bond creates an arms-length distance between the accuser (state) and the accused (individual).