Bail process in Detroit. Once a person has been booked and processed into a facility in Detroit, the bail process can begin. Generally, the process takes longer for a more serious crime and at larger facilities. Bond is often set very quickly for misdemeanors, relying on local schedules. However, judges are more likely to be involved in more serious crimes. The bail process could take a few hours at a smaller facility and up to a full day or longer at larger institutions such as the Wayne County Jails, which include Old Wayne County jail, one of the oldest operating jails in the country.
Types of Bail in Detroit. There are four options for posting a bond to be released from jail in Detroit. The choice will often have to do with the amount of the bond. The options include:
- Personal recognizance. A PR bond is generally only allowed in limited situations – when a defendant has committed a non-violent misdemeanor and usually only for defendants with no previous criminal record. This is an unsecured bond and is only an option when the court feels the defendant will return to court and is not a danger to anyone.
- Surety bond. If a defendant does not have the cash to pay the entire amount of the bond, or enough to pay 10 percent of the bond amount to the court, a bail bond agent can be hired. A surety bond is a contract involving the bail bond agent, the defendant and an insurance company. The bail bond agents pays 25 percent of the total bond amount and guarantees payment of the total amount to the court. For that service, the agent charges 10 percent of the total bond amount to the defendant, which is not refundable. Many bail bond companies offer payment plans or accept collateral from a defendant or co-signer to guarantee the total amount of the bond.
- Cash bond. When a defendant is required to pay a cash-only bond that is an indication that the defendant has been determined to be a potential flight risk – often because of previous missed court appearances, unpaid court fines or back due child support. This is different from a defendant that decides to pay the entire amount of bail in cash. Doing so saves the 10 percent that must be paid to a bail bond agent.
- Ten percent bond. This type of bond involves an agreement directly between the defendant – and any co-signer – and the court. The money is returned, minus court fees and costs, as long as the defendant shows up to all scheduling hearings. This is another way to save the 10 percent premium that would have to be paid to a bail bond agent.
Bond costs and options. Michigan law caps the premium that can be charged by bail bond agents at 10 percent. In addition, every defendant who posts bond must pay a $10 state fee as well as a $12 booking fee that goes to the jail. A PR bond, of course, is the cheapest of all options, but the decision is up to a court official. Paying the bond is cash is the next cheapest option because there is no 10 percent fee that must be paid to a bail bond agent. However, many defendants need to weigh the benefits of saving that 10 percent fee and hiring a bail bond agent instead in order to retain more cash on hand to pay for a legal defense.
Violating bail agreement. Michigan law allows bail bond companies to employ bounty hunters. Their job is to find and return a defendant who has failed to appear as scheduled in court. The defendant or co-signer will be charged any costs incurred by the bounty hunter. Unless the defendant can offer a compelling explanation, failure to appear in court is a separate criminal offense. Once returned to jail, bond may be raised significantly or a defendant may be held without bond. In addition, the defendant or co-signer must pay the entire amount of the bond to the bail bond agent and any collateral will be forfeited.