Bail Bonds FAQs in Pittsburgh, PA
Though we’ve been in the business for quite a few decades, we at Diane Tress Bail Bonds know that not everyone is familiar with the bond process. That’s why we’ve compiled a helpful list of the most common questions we receive. Read through our bail bonds FAQs in Pittsburgh, PA, or reach out to our helpful team for more detailed information.
- What happens when you are arrested?
Once arrested, most individuals are taken to local detention facilities for booking. This almost always happens before incarceration, or before being taken to a county jail or lockup station. Defendants, once booked, have many choices for release while awaiting their cases’ conclusions. The bail system is meant to ensure that defendants appear in court in a timely manner. Furthermore, bail acts as insurance for the state, ensuring that the suspect appears to face charges. Release on bail is not intended to free the suspect of obligations. It is the preservation of control over the defendant so that justice may later be administered.
- What are my release options?
There are five basic release options.
- Cash Bond. These bonds require individuals to post the total amount of the bail (and not only 10%) in cash. Courts hold onto this money until a case’s conclusion. If the defendant does not appear on the agreed date, the bond is forfeited; then, a bench warrant is issued. In these situations, defendants may be their own guarantors. It’s important to observe that modern federal laws restrict these kinds of bails in cases involving narcotics. In such cases, all cash or assets used to secure the cash or surety bond must be proven to have not originated from narcotics trafficking before bail is granted.
- Surety Bond (Common Bail Bond). Surety bonds are series of contracts that guarantee a defendant's appearance in court. When a professional bail bond agent guarantees that appearance, that agent is fully accountable if the defendant does not appear through an insurance company, called the surety. Consequently, the bond agent charges a premium for this service, and in many cases requires collateral from a guarantor. The guarantor usually knows the defendant and is guaranteeing that they will appear in court. Ironically, though a defendant who fails to appear in court is subject to additional charges, they are not normally liable for any bond forfeitures (unless the guarantor arranges such an agreement with the defendant).
- Property Bond. In uncommon cases, in some jurisdictions, individuals may secure release from custody by posting a property bond with the court. The court records a lien (or right) on the property to obtain the bail amount. If the defendant does not appear, the court may begin foreclosure proceedings against the property. Frequently, the equity of the property must be twice the amount of the bail set.
- Own Recognizance (OR). OR establishes an administrative pre-trial release. Usually court administrators or judges speak with individuals in custody and make suggestions to the court regarding release on OR (i.e., with no financial security to insure the appearance).
- Criminal Summons (Cite Out). During this procedure, the arresting officer issues a citation to the arrestee. The citation informs the arrestee that they are obligated to appear on a determined court date. Cite outs usually happen directly after an individual is arrested and no financial security is taken.
- Who sets bail amounts?
A judge or magistrate usually sets the bail amount for a specific case according to a county bail schedule (also known as “Schedule of Bail for All Bailable Offenses”) and the details of the case in question. The bail schedule itself is normally set yearly by a majority vote of superior, municipal, and other judges. In setting or denying bail, the judge or magistrate's first order of business is protecting the public, followed by the offense’s seriousness and the defendant’s previous criminal record. Additionally, the judge must be convinced that no portion of the bail was feloniously obtained.
- Who may accept bail?
In most jurisdictions, judges, bail clerks, court clerks, magistrates, and designated jailers may accept bail. It’s a good idea to observe that this generally does not include the arresting officer.
- When will bail be granted?
Bail is typically granted when:
- An individual is arrested for a bailable offense, before appearing in front of the magistrate or other arraignment
- An individual is arrested for a bailable offense, behind formal indictment or charges
- An individual is convicted of an offense but is awaiting sentencing (when the sentence is predicted to be lenient)
- An individual is convicted of an offense but is creating an application for probation
- An individual convicted of an offense is making an appeal (usually only after confirmation that the person is not a flight risk, faces a lenient sentence, is not a threat to the community, and has a decent court appearance record).
Keep in mind that most jurisdictions won’t grant bail for capital crimes or violent felonies without having the defendant first attend a hearing. The prosecuting attorney is given time to prepare for this hearing - usually two court days. A defendant charged with a crime punishable by death usually may not be granted bail if proof of their guilt is apparent, or if the presumption thereof is significant.
- What happens when bond is set?
The first thing that happens when bail is set is a court procedure. During the court procedure, the bond is either settled then held for court, or the client moves to a formal arraignment, pretrial conference, and finally, a trial. At the formal arraignment, the client is assigned a judge. This judge will hear the case later on, as well as tell the courts whether they will use a private attorney or public defender. At this arraignment, clients must prove that they are eligible for public defender services. During the pretrial stage, the client may plea bargain, as well as determine whether the trial will be a jury or non-jury trial. Last but not least, the client will go to trial.
- Do I get my money back?
Diane Tressa Bail Bonds’ fees are unfortunately non-refundable.
- Why do I have to pay a fee?
As a bail bond agent, Diane pledges her clients' bail to the courts, taking a risk with her funds if the client fails to go to court. Paying for her services is the same as taking out an insurance policy, so her fees are the same as an insurance premium. If you think of it in terms of a bank loan, her fees are a bit like an interest payment on the loan. Only with a bank, your interest would gather over time and with Diane's services, you pay one fee up front whether you are on bond for three days or three years.
- What happens when a client flees?
The surety (and the bail agent, by way of the surety) in a bail bond retains the right to turn its principal (the defendant) over to the court, with help law enforcement, at any moment. To this end, they may pursue and seize the defendant when they find him or her, even if this turns out to be in another state. In plain terms, the bail agent or surety have the right to cancel the bail at any time and turn in the defendant if necessary (for example, if the defendant has quit their job, cannot be found, or is reported to be planning an escape). By common law, the surety may arrest a defendant who has failed to appear anytime, anyplace. This arrest is legally considered a continuation of the original custody and has been compared to the US Supreme Court (Taylor v. Taintor 16 Wall, 366) re-arrest of escaped prisoners by the sheriff. During the same case, the court stated that bail was intended to transfer custody from the sheriff to the surety - and not to discharge the defendant from custody. Bail agents do not have to possess warrants or court orders to forcibly enter clients’ homes, and the Supreme Court has also ruled that "Bail has no power to arrest the principal in a foreign country" (Reese v. S. 9 Wall 13). The surety and its bail agent may authorize any person of suitable age to arrest a defendant (usually by providing written authority on a certified copy of the certificate of deposit).In conclusion, bail agents have more powers than states do when it comes to tracking and arresting defendants. Bail agents do not need warrants or extradition proceedings like states do.
- Can I get free answers to my questions?
You can reach out to our office anytime to schedule a free bail consultation, during which you can explain the details of your case and ask questions about our services.
Contact our office with additional questions or concerns about our bail bonds FAQs, and we’ll do our best to address them. We proudly serve residents of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as well as clients in courts throughout the country when possible.