- 4 Ways to Get Out of Jail
Own Recognizance – As described above, a defendant can be released by signing an agreement to return to court and without posting a bond. This is generally only allowed with non-violent crimes and for defendants with little or no previous criminal history.
Cash bond – The bail for misdemeanor crimes can often range from a few hundred dollars to $1,000. If a defendant can pay this entire amount in cash, or can find someone to pay a cash bond on his or her behalf, there is no need to hire a bail bond agent. That saves the 10 percent premium that the state of Iowa allows bail bond companies to charge. If the defendant shows up for all court appearances, the cash bond is returned – minus any court or administrative fees.
Surety bond – When the bond reaches an amount that is too high for the defendant to pay in cash, the option is to hire a bail bond agent. For a premium of 10 percent of the total bail, the agent will guarantee the entire bond to the court. As part of this surety bond arrangement, the bail bond agent could require collateral, such as a car, jewelry or other property, to help cover the entire cost of the bail in the event the defendant does not show up for all court appearances.
Property bond – This is not seen often in Iowa. In some cases when bail is very high, a defendant or co-signer will turn over the title to property – often a house or piece of land – as a bond payment. The appraised or market value of the property must be filed with the court and that value must at least equal the amount of the bail. The property must be owned outright and the court records a lien on the property.
- How to Get Bail
After the booking process has been completed, which can take a couple of hours in many cases, the defendant is given the chance to make a phone call. This call can be made to family member or friend or to a bail bond company – numbers of nearby companies are available in jail. The bail bond agent must get information and verify that the defendant or co-signer is financially stable.
- What Will Bail Cost
If the defendant posted a cash bond, the only costs involved are any court or administrative fees. However, with a surety, the defendant pays 10 percent of the value of the bail. That premium is not returned. If the defendant does not show up for all court appearances, bail may or may not be set a second time. If it is, the court will usually set the bail at a significantly higher amount.
- How Long Will I Stay in Jail
Iowa has a number of laws designed to limit the amount of time a defendant must stay in jail while waiting to post bond. A defendant must be given the chance to make a phone call within a “reasonable amount of time” after an arrest. Additionally, an initial hearing before a judge – when bail is established if there is no preset schedule – must take place without an “unreasonable delay.” Iowa says that amount of time is 24 hours. If there is a preset amount for bail, the process to be booked and to post bail with the help of a bail bond agent usually takes between 2 and 5 hours, according to criminal court attorneys. Longer waits are possible in bigger jails or for defendants arrested late at night or on the weekend.
- What if I Miss a Court Appearance
There are a couple of ways for a defendant to violate a bail agreement. One is by missing a court appearance. The second is by violating a specific condition of the court. When either happens, the defendant loses the entire amount of a cash bond. For a surety bond, the court seeks the entire amount of the bail from the bail bond agent. The agent then keeps any collateral and seeks the rest of the bond from the defendant or co-signer. The court issues a warrant for the arrest of the defendant for failure to appear – a separate misdemeanor – and for the original offense. If the defendant does appear in court – with or without the assistance of a bounty hunter – the bail bond agent can request to be repaid the 90 percent of the bond that was forfeited to the court.
The information contained above is for informational purposes only. If you need legal advice you should visit an attorney.