Suspects who are arrested for a crime would prefer not to be confined in jail until their case is resolved. Fortunately, most suspects are released pending trial.
While suspects refer to their release as being “bailed out of jail,” the concept of bail is often misunderstood. Here are five things that anyone facing arrest should understand about bail in Iowa.
Bail Before a Finding of Guilt Is a Constitutional Right
Before entering a guilty plea or being found guilty after a trial, individuals charged with a crime in an Iowa state court are entitled to bail. After a defendant is found guilty of certain serious felonies, the defendant is no longer eligible for bail, but defendants awaiting sentencing or pursuing an appeal for convictions of less serious crimes can remain free on bail unless the court decides they pose a danger to society or are likely to flee.
Bail Can Often Be Posted Before Appearing in Court
Instead of waiting in jail until a judge can set bail, people who are arrested can often post a predetermined amount of cash as bail. That “bond schedule” amount ranges from $300 to $25,000, depending on the severity of the offense.
Bail for certain serious crimes can only be set by a judge. When a defendant posts bail before a court appearance, the judge can reduce the amount that was posted.
No Cash Bail Is Required If the Court Imposes a Recognizance Bond
When offenses are not regarded as serious and when the defendant has no history of disobeying bail conditions, a court will often allow a defendant to be released on his or her own recognizance. The defendant will not be required to post cash or a surety bond, but will be required to obey conditions that are set by the court. If the defendant posted a bond schedule amount before appearing in court, it will be returned.
Bail Can Often Be Posted by a Bonding Company
When a court does not authorize a recognizance bond, it will set an amount of cash that must be posted before the accused can be released. The accused can do that by posting the full amount in cash or, unless the judge requires the posting of cash, by posting a surety bond.
A surety bond is posted by a bonding company. The company usually requires the accused to pay 10% of the bail amount as a fee. If the accused “jumps bail” by failing to appear in court, the bonding company owes the full amount to the court. The accused then owes that money to the bonding company.
If the defendant complies with bail conditions, the court will return any cash that the defendant posted when the prosecution ends, either because a sentence has been imposed or the charges have been dismissed. If the defendant posted a surety bond, however, the bonding company will not return its fee.
Defendants Must Obey Conditions of Release
When the court authorizes release on a recognizance bond or upon posting of bail, the court will also set conditions of release. Failure to obey those conditions can lead to a revocation of bail and a return to jail.
Appearing in court whenever the court sets a court date is a standard condition. Not committing a new crime is also standard. Conditions that are tailored to the facts of the case may include a prohibition on contact with the victim or witnesses, restrictions on travel or place of residence, requiring the defendant to maintain employment or participate in drug treatment, and other conditions designed to protect society and assure the defendant’s future court appearances.
Don’t delay in seeking legal help, contact the Law Office of Raphael M. Scheetz to discuss how we can help.
We will help you to understand your situation from the legal perspective as well as your best defense options.