When someone is released on a bond, what does that actually mean? Sometimes, people don’t even get the opportunity to be released on a bond — why is that? We’ll talk about bail bonds, what they do, and how they work in this informative post.

Black and white prison bars

Bail vs Bail Bond

It’s important to know that there’s two things that go into bail and a bond. Bail is a set amount of money, generally set by a judge, that acts as insurance between the court and the person who is in jail. The amount of bail is usually set depending on the crime committed. The more serious the crime, the higher the amount of bail. The act of paying bail is often called “posting bail”. 

Bail can be paid in cash, but can be too high for a defendant to pay alone. Bail agents, or “bondsmen”, will often pay the amount on behalf of the person. A “bail bond” is a certain type of bond provided by a bond company that secures the release of the person in jail. 

The process works like this:

  1. A judge sets the bail amount. If a defendant can’t pay the bail amount, they may seek the help of a bail bondsman
  2. A bail bondsman will require the defendant to pay a certain amount of the bond, like 10% ($10,000 bail = $100 payment by the defendant), but will put up the rest to get the defendant out of jail. The bail bondsman will require something else as collateral if the defendant does not have enough money to cover the remaining 90% of the bail amount. This could be a home, vehicles, stocks, jewelry, or other things.
  3. If the defendant does not show up for their court date, the bail will need to be paid in full. The bondsman will collect the collateral as payment. 
  4. If the defendant does show up for their court date, the bail amount is dissolved, though the bondman keeps the 10% paid to them as a profit

In New Hampshire, the laws recently changed and bail bonds have been nearly entirely eliminated. 

New Hampshire Bail & Pre-Trial Options

In New Hampshire, murder, offenses punishable by life in prison, fugitive from justice charges, and violation of a protective order will not have bail set and the defendant will generally be detained until trial.

For other offenses, a defendant may be released on personal recognizance (“PR bail”), asked to post a cash bail without a bail bondsman, or released on pre-trial services (also known as bail supervision). 

Personal Recognizance

New Hampshire is different from many other states as a defense attorney can argue on behalf of the defendant that they be released on personal recognizance, or PR bail. A defense attorney can sometimes argue that a defendant can be released on PR bail under conditions of limitations on travel, as well as who the defendant can visit. Personal recognizance is a signed agreement stating that the defendant will return for their trial and does not require any money. This process is used for many less serious crimes.

Pretrial Services 

New Hampshire utilizes pre-trial services as an option for release pending trial. In evaluating whether a defendant qualifies for pre-trial release and/or bail, the Court evaluates whether the defendant is a danger to himself, the community or a risk of flight. 

Pretrial agents will investigate a defendant and will inform the court as to any risks a defendant may have, such as any conditions that may exist that would make a defendant not appear at their court date. The court can then make a reasonable assessment regarding whether the defendant should get released on PR bail or on conditions with pretrial supervision. 

Pre-trial supervision is similar to probation supervision and may include electronic monitoring, daily reporting, random drug testing and/or imposition of travel restrictions/curfews. 

Who doesn’t get bail?

It is possible for a judge to deny any bail. Bail can be denied if the offense is punishable by death, there is a parole hold, or there is a threat to public safety if the defendant is allowed to leave jail. A judge can also deny bail if the defendant appears to be a flight risk, meaning there is a considerable risk that the defendant may try to run away or escape from law enforcement. Lastly, a judge can deny bail to any defendant who misses court dates or has repeat offenses.

If you have questions about bail or getting out of jail, contact Bernstein & Mello, PLLC. We can help you understand bail and help build your defense. Contact us today to get started.