Can a defendant write a check to pay for a cash bond in Idaho? Under state law, a magistrate or district judge is required to consider three issues before deciding whether to accept a personal check. The first is whether the check is from a commercial bank that is licensed to do business in Idaho. The second issue is whether the defendant or indemnitor is a resident of the state. The third factor is whether the check is a two-party check. Here are five other issues to consider if you are arrested and need to post bail in Idaho.
1. Four Ways to Get Out of Jail
Cash bond – Of course, this option will depend on the amount of the bail and how much cash you have available to you. For misdemeanor crimes, it is common for the bail amount to be $500 or $1,000. Paying this amount in cash, or having another adult make the payment for you, avoids the fees charged by a bail bonds company. This option is generally not practical for more serious crimes where the bail can be thousands of dollars or more.
Surety bond – This is available through a bail bond company. Bail bond companies are regulated by the state and must have an insurance license. When the amount of bail is too much to pay in cash, the defendant can hire a bail bond company to guarantee the bail amount to the court. The fee, generally 10 percent, is not returned. A bail bond company can be the only option for someone with bail set at $50,000 or $100,000 for example. By paying $5,000 or $10,000 to the bail bondsman, it’s possible to get out of jail.
Property bond – This option is generally used only for higher bail amounts. The defendant or a relative or friend can put up a car, home or other piece of property. This requires that a promissory note equal to the assessed value of the property be issued and given to court officials. If the property is not paid off in full, there must be sufficient equity to cover the bail, as well as court fees and attorneys costs.
Own Recognizance – Under Idaho’s Bail Act, judges have the discretion to release a defendant on his or her own recognizance (OR). This is generally used for misdemeanors and less serious felonies and state law sets out a list of guidelines for judges to consider when deciding if bail is required. These guidelines include whether the defendant has little or no criminal record and a strong connection to the community. Judges also have the authority to include restrictions as a condition of OR, such as house arrest, or GPS monitoring.
2. How to Get Bail
There are only a couple of ways to get bail in Idaho. One is if you have the cash to pay the entire bond. This is usually the fastest way to get out of jail. Under state law, anyone 18 or older can agree to post bail for another person. If the defendant shows up for all court hearings, the bail is returned to the person who posted the cash – minus any fees or surcharges. Many Idaho courts also accept credit cards and the opportunity to post bail usually is offered after an offender is fingerprinted and processed in jail.
If the offender doesn’t have enough cash – let’s say the bail was set at $10,000 – offenders will be given the chance to call an attorney or bail bond agent. The numbers for local bail bonds companies often are available in jail. Bail bonds agents in Idaho generally charge 10 percent of the bail amount. That means the defendant pays a $500 premium to get a $5,000 surety bond. The bail bond company has a relationship with an insurance company that guarantees payment of the full $5,000 if the defendant misses any scheduled court appearance. If that happens, whoever signed for the surety bond owes the entire bond amount.
3. What Will Bail Cost?
In general, the cost to hire a bail bonds agent in Idaho is 10 percent of the amount of the bond. For a $5,000 bond, for example, the agent would receive $500. Some bail bonds companies charge only 8 percent to members of the military or to anyone working with a private attorney. If a defendant isn’t planning to show up for court hearings or the trial, it’s unlikely he or she would have paid money to hire an attorney.
4. How Long Will I Stay in Jail?
That wait to be released on bail depends on the crime you were charged with. For the most common misdemeanors, there are set bail schedules, meaning a defendant can find out immediately how much it will cost to post bail. If he or she has that amount of money, it can take only a few hours to be fingerprinted and processed and then to be offered the opportunity to post bail.
If the crime is a more serious misdemeanor or a felony, bail won’t be set until an arraignment is held. Idaho law requires offenders to have their first appearance before a judge within 48 hours. In practice this initial court hearing normally takes place within 24 hours, according to criminal attorneys.
5. What if I Miss a Court Appearance?
Missing any scheduled court appearance violates the release agreement with the state. The judge will immediately issue a warrant for your arrest. If a cash bond was involved, the court gets to keep the entire amount of the bond if the offender doesn’t show up within 180 days to explain why he or she missed a hearing.
If a bail bondsman was involved, the person who signed for the bond – known as the indemnitor – is responsible for paying the entire amount to the bail bonds company. The same 180-day period applies and it is possible for a judge to set aside the bond forfeiture if the offender shows up in court within that time frame with a reasonable explanation. Some bail bonds companies in Idaho employ bounty hunters to locate and bring in defendants who have violated their bail agreement.
This article is for informational purposes only. If you need legal advice you should consult an attorney.
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