Bail process in Memphis. Most defendants arrested in Memphis are taken to Shelby County Jail to be booked and processed. Once that has been completed, a defendant is allowed to make a phone call and begin the jail release process. That call can go directly to a bail bond agent or to a friend or family member for assistance. For most misdemeanors and some less serious felonies, the bail amount can be quickly determined from a county schedule. The process takes longer for more serious crimes, which involve a bond hearing and often require at least an overnight stay in jail.
Types of Bail in Memphis. There are four bail options for defendants in Memphis. They are:
- Cash bond. This options allows for the fastest release from jail, particularly if the defendant has the resources to pay the full bail amount. Instead of paying a fee to a bail bond agent, the cash bond is paid to the court and nearly all is returned at the end of the case – minus court fees and costs. An adult can act as a co-signer for a defendant and becomes responsible for the entire bail amount and the defendant’s appearance at all court hearings.
- Release on recognizance. This option is generally only available to defendants with little or no criminal history who have not been arrested for a crime of violence. With an ROR release, the defendant isn’t required to pay any money. In most cases, a judicial commissioner reviews the case and the defendant is released to the supervision of the Pre-Trial Services division and will be required to follow conditions of release or risk being returned to jail.
- Surety bond. This is the most common type of jail release because many defendants don’t have enough money pay the entire bail amount in cash. Under Tennessee law, a defendant can hire a bail bond agent, who will generally charge a premium of 10 percent. For an out-of-state defendant, the premium can be a maximum of 15 percent of the amount of the bail. This fee is nonrefundable.
- Property bond. When bail is very expensive, even 10 percent can be a burden for many defendants. In those situations, it’s possible to use a property bond – often tied to a home or piece of real estate – to be released from jail. There are a number of rules and a significant amount of paperwork. The property must be located within Shelby County and the value of the property must be at least 150 percent of the amount of bail.
How bail is set. For virtually all misdemeanors and some felony arrests, bail can be determined almost immediately with the help of a Shelby County bail schedule. While court officials have the discretion to deviate from the schedule, that usually does not happen for more routine offenses. When a more serious felony is involved, the process to determine bail takes longer and requires a bond hearing. The judge will consider a number of factors to decide if the defendant is likely to show up for court hearings and does not pose a threat to anyone in the community.
Bond costs and options. As long as a defendant is a resident of Tennessee, the cost for a surety bond is 10 percent of the total amount of bail, in addition to a $37 state fee. There is no fee to post a cash bond, although some court fees and costs will be deducted from the bail amount. defendants posting bail must also pay a $37 state fee.