How bail bonds work, in the state of Colorado.
A bail bond agent, or bondsman, is any person or corporation that will act as a surety and pledge money or property as bail for the appearance of persons accused in court. Although banks, insurance companies and other similar institutions are usually the sureties on other types of contracts, such entities are reluctant to put their depositors’ or policyholders’ funds at the kind of risk involved in posting a bail bond. Bail bond agents on the other hand, are usually in the business to cater to criminal defendants, often securing their customers’ release in just a few hours.
Colorado law sets the factors a judge must examine when determining the bail amount. Factors include the crime the defendant is accused of, previous criminal history, whether the defendant is employed, financial circumstances and the defendant’s family relationships.
A surety bond can be obtained from a bail bondsman to secure the defendant’s release from jail. The bail bond agency will generally charge a non-refundable fee of 10% of the bail amount for its service and will post the full amount with the court. The bail bond amount will be returned to the agency in full once the defendant appears in court.
Once the defendant’s bail is posted they may be released from jail. If they are being held in a city jail, release may occur within 15 minutes to 2 hours. However because county court is more populated, release may take as long as 8 hours.
In addition to the 10% fee, the bail bond company may also request that the defendant provide additional collateral, usually valued at the full bond amount. Property may be seized, including bank accounts, cars, houses and jewelry, when its bond is forfeited and the defendant fails to appear in court.
(1) In determining the amount of bail and the type of bond to be furnished by the defendant, the judge fixing the same shall consider and be governed by the following criteria:
The amount of bail shall not be oppressive;
- When a person is charged with an offense punishable by fine only, the amount of bail shall not exceed the amount of the maximum penalty;
- The defendant’s employment status and history and his financial condition;
- The nature and extent of his family relationships;
- His past and present residences; His character and reputation;
- Identity of persons who agree to assist him in attending court at the proper time;
- The nature of the offense presently charged and the apparent probability of conviction and the likely sentence;
- The defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, and, if he previously has been released pending trial, whether he appeared as required;
- (j) Any facts indicating the possibility of violations of law if the defendant is released without restrictions;
- Any facts indicating a likelihood that there will be an intimidation or harassment of possible witnesses by the defendant;
- Any other facts tending to indicate that the defendant has strong ties to the community and is not likely to flee the jurisdiction;
- Unless the district attorney consents, no person shall be released on personal recognizance if he is presently at liberty on another bond of any kind in another criminal action involving a felony or a class 1 misdemeanor;
- Unless the district attorney consents, no person shall be released on personal recognizance if he has a record of conviction of a class 1 misdemeanor within two years, or a felony within five years, prior to the release hearing.