- 5 Ways to Get Out of Jail
Personal recognizance – The preference under Vermont law is that a defendant be released on personal recognizance or an unsecured appearance bond. A PR release is generally offered only to first-time defendants when a crime of violence was not involved and there is no indication the defendant will not show up for all court hearings. The defendant is not required to pay bail and must agree to return to court when requested.
Unsecured appearance bond – The defendant in this situation also is released from jail without paying bond. However, the difference between an unsecured appearance bond and a PR release is that a judicial officer will determine a bail amount for the offense involved. The defendant will sign an agreement saying he or she will return for all scheduled court hearings or have to pay the bail the amount of bail that was set. This option also is usually reserved for less serious crimes and defendants with a connection to the community.
Cash bond – Defendants with enough cash on hand, or with a willing co-signer, can post the entire amount of bail in cash. The money is deposited with court officials. The benefit is that there is no premium charged by the court – as opposed to the business practice of a bail bond company. However, paying a cash bond could affect the ability of some defendant’s to pay for other charges, including a criminal defense lawyer.
Secured appearance bond – Vermont law gives judicial officers the discretion to require a defendant to pay a portion of bail in order to increase the likelihood of showing up for all court appearances. For example, if bail is set at $25,000, the secured amount is usually 10 percent. That means a defendant, with or without the help of a co-signer, can post $2,500 with the court as part of a secured appearance bond.
Surety bond – The defendant enters into a contract with a bail bond company. For a 10 percent nonrefundable premium, the bail bond company guarantees the entire amount of the bail to the court. The defendant may be required to get a co-signer, to put up collateral, or both, depending on the amount of bail.
- How to Get Bail
Bail in Vermont can be posted at the county courthouse or the correctional facility where the defendant is being held. The process of pursuing any type of release, whether secured or unsecured, cannot begin until a defendant has been booked into the correctional facility. That is a process that varies from county to county, from an hour or so to a couple of hours in larger counties.
- What Will Bail Cost
Vermont sets the premium that bail bond companies can charge through its Department of Financial Regulation at 10 percent. For a bail set at $50,000, for example, a defendant or co-signer would have to pay $5,000 to the bail bond agent. That amount is nonrefundable. In addition, there are mostly minor charges for court costs and various bail-related fees.
- How Long Will I Stay in Jail
That depends on the offense involved. Most misdemeanors have preset bail amounts included on a schedule available in all counties in the state. However, for a felony, there usually must be an arraignment to establish bond. While that often takes place the same day as the arrest, arraignments are not held 24 hours a day. Posting a cash bond or getting released on an unsecured bond or a PR bond usually requires the shortest waits. When a bail bond agent is involved, another 1 to 3 hours can be added to the wait in jail to be released, according to Vermont bail bond officials.
- What if I Miss a Court Appearance
Failure to appear in court for a scheduled appearance can lead to a bail forfeiture. If that happens, the court will issue an arrest warrant for the separate crime of failure to appear, and any punishment for that crime would be in addition to a sentence for the offense that brought the defendant into jail in the first place. If the defendant doesn’t appear and explain the reason for missing the court hearing, the court will collect the entire amount of the bail from a bail bond agent and the defendant or a co-signer will be legally liable for the entire amount to the bail bond company. Additionally, the defendant and co-signer would be liable to pay the entire bail amount under any secured appearance bond agreement.
This article is for informational purposes only. For legal advice, see an attorney.