What is Bail and how does it work in Oklahoma?
- Bail is a service mandated through the Constitution of the United States and the State of Oklahoma to allow people accused of crimes to remain free until their trial. It is far easier for people accused of crimes to prepare their defense while out of custody, so bail is a benefit that allows people to ensure that when they have their day in court that they have all the information they need to protect themselves and their freedom. Once the bail amount is paid the accused person can leave jail, but with the promise of returning for their next court appearance. If they fail to do so or “skip” bail, they forfeit the amount of money they paid to the court and further endanger their case and their freedom.The most common type of bail requires a set amount of money or property given to the court in order to secure the release of a person accused of a crime. This amount of money is set as a preset amount from a county’s bail schedule or set after seeing a judge for more serious charges. Some particularly serious crimes do not allow bail. Judges have a great deal of leeway in setting the amount of bail so every case is different.Depending on the alleged crime, bail can be extremely expensive, and not everyone has the cash to pay the court thousands of dollars to get out of jail. In that case, Bail Bonds are the best option. A bail bond is a contractual undertaking called a corporate surety bond presented to the court and guaranteed by a Bail Agent and the individuals paying for bail (Indemnitors).
- The Oklahoma Bail Bond Agency promises the court the defendant will appear as required or the Bail Bond Agency will pursue the fugitive and attempt to bring him/her back to jail voluntarily or involuntarily without delay. The Indemnitors are also financially responsible if the defendant should fail to appear in court. In turn, the Indemnitors make a contractual deal with the Bail Bond Agency that they will assure the defendant complies with the bail regulations. This includes going to every court date on time, and they are responsible for advising or reminding the defendant to comply with dates, times and other requirements set forth by the court and the Bail Bond Agency. If the defendant and/or the Indemnitors on a particular Bail Bond fail to fulfill their obligations of the bond, it may result in serious financial ramifications.
- For the service of bail, the defendant is charged a percentage of the bond amount. Bail Bond premiums are commonly set at 10% of the total bond amount in Oklahoma although this rate may be adjusted under certain circumstances. Once the defendant is released though a Bail Bond Agreement, the full premium is earned by the bonding company even if credit has been extended to indemnitors.
- Before being released, the defendant, a relative, or friend of the defendant, typically would contacts a bail agent to arrange for the posting of a Bail Bond. Prior to the posting of the bond, the defendant or a co-signer, aka indemnitor, agree that if the defendant does not appear in court or adhere to the Bail Bond contract, the Indemnitors must guarantee that they will pay the full amount of bail bond and any and all out of pocket expenses.
- Depending on the circumstances, the bail agent may require some form of collateral in order to write the bond. Collateral is something of value that the Bail Bond Agency is given or assigned in order to cover the full bail amount in the event that the defendant does not go to court or follow through with the disposition of the court and the bail is forfeited (when the bail bond is ordered to be paid to the court). Generally speaking, the higher the bail, the more likely it is that a Bail Agent will require collateral in order to reduce their risk or exposure on the Bail Bond. Collateral can be in the form of real estate, a vehicle, cash, jewelry or anything else of value. Often, the collateral must have the ability to be converted to cash within a reasonable period of time.
- In addition to the required Bail Bond premium, an Indemnitor will need proper identification, a pay-stub or other verification of employment, and will be required to supply the Bail Bond Agent with personal information, such as; social security number, birth date, drivers license number, address, phone numbers, employer, employer’s address and phone, supervisor’s name and phone, whether you own or rent your residence, references, plus any other pertinent information deemed necessary by the Bail Agent in determining whether you qualify as an Indemnitor.
- After all of the paperwork is completed, the Bail Agent will present the Bail Bond to the jail or court. The amount of time the jail or court processes the Bail Bond varies with the workloads at the jail or court, the size of the jail or court, and many other factors outside the control of the Bail Bond Agency. Once the Bail Bond is presented to the jail or court, the Bail Bond Agent will contact the Indemnitors to advise the timeline for the defendant’s release. If the release is within a reasonably short period of time, the Bail Bond Agent may be in a position to provide a free ride home to the defendant. Otherwise, a ride will need to be arranged by the Defendant or Indemnitors.