Why You Should Bond Out of Jail
Bail bonds are an increasingly contentious topic in the United States. Are they applied fairly? People may generally agree that an offender who is likely to hurt himself or others should stay in jail until his trial. However, many of the people languishing in prison cells today are non-violent offenders, and the only reason they’re held is because they can’t afford to make bail – to pay the bond that releases them until trial.
As TMZ Sports captured in an image, even multi-millionaire UFC fighters like Conor McGregor, who was charged with misdemeanor assault and felony criminal mischief in New York, need a bail bondsman to get out of lockdown pending trial.
According to a handbook published by the Colorado Criminal Defense Institute, “Defendants detained in jail awaiting trail plead guilty more often, are convicted more often, are sentenced to prison more often, and receive harsher prison sentences than those who are released during the pretrial period.” Posting bail is vitally important to your criminal defense case, which is why we at The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., urge you to pay attention to the laws concerning bail bonds.
If you’ve been arrested, your entire future may be at stake. We’ve seen criminal convictions destroy relationships, careers, reputations, financial security, and even cause the loss of driving privileges, in addition to the loss of your freedom. Trust us, a good lawyer is worth his price in the long run.
What Is a Bail Bond?
A bond is a formal written agreement where a person agrees to do something and offers collateral for this agreement, usually in the form of money. If the person follows the agreement, the money is returned to him. If the person breaks the agreement, his money is forfeit.
In the exact words of Colorado law: “Bail” means a security, which may include a bond with or without monetary conditions, required by a court for the release of a person in custody set to provide reasonable assurance of public safety and court appearance. (C.R.S.16-1-104)
There are four types of bonds in Colorado:
- Cash bond: Someone can pay your bond in cash to release you from custody. This may be a family member, a friend, or another person or company.
- Personal recognizance bond (PR bond):You sign a bond agreement, but don’t have to pay money or use property as collateral. Your signature is your promise to appear in court. A judge may require someone else to sign your bond as well.
- Professional surety bond: You or a family member can have a state-licensed bondsman pay the bond. The bondsman may require a co-signer and/or collateral from you or a family member to secure the bond.
- Property bond: You use equity from any real estate belonging to you located in Colorado, which must be worth 1.5 times the amount of the bond. A family member or friend can also post this type of bond on your behalf.
Colorado uses the bond as a security that the defendant (a person charged with a crime) will show up for his or her court dates, and not attempt to flee. Most people who are arrested are eligible for bail, though not all.
All About Bonding in Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs, where The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., bases its practice, is in El Paso County, which belongs to Colorado’s 4th judicial district. Bail amounts set in El Paso County are discretionary, meaning that while there are official “schedules,” judges have the ability to raise and lower bail as they see fit. Here is the bail bond schedule for Colorado’s 4th judicial district, as of October 2017:
- Felony Class 1 – No bond
- Felony Class 2 – $50,000
- Felony Class 3 – $10,000
- Felony Class 4 – $3,000
- Felony Class 5 – $2,000
- Felony Class 6 – $1,000
- Misdemeanor 1 – $800
- Misdemeanor 2 – $500
- Misdemeanor 3 – $300
- Drug Felony 1 – $50,000
- Drug Felony 2 – $10,000
- Drug Felony 3 – $2,000
- Drug Felony 4 – $1,000
- Drug Misdemeanor 1 – $700
- Drug Misdemeanor 2 – $400
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI) – $1,000
- Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) – $800
- Driving Under Restraint (DUR) – $1,000
- DUR alcohol-related – $3,000
- Petty offenses – $100
It’s also worth noting that in the case of a domestic violence arrest, no bail will be set until the person arrested has had an initial advisement hearing before a judge (in which he is informed of the charges against him, and a Mandatory Protection Order is filed against him on the victim’s behalf). While you do have the right to contest this order, doing so will delay the judge setting your bail amount.
Some neighboring counties and districts have stricter rules; others have looser rules. For example, posting bond for DUR in Dolores County would cost you only $500, while in El Paso County, it will cost you $1,000. The lack of cohesion between neighboring counties in the same state can make bonding inherently unfair. However, there may be some leeway when the right attorney argues for bail at your hearing
What About CPAT?
In February 2013, The Pretrial Justice Institute released a Colorado Pretrial Assessment Tool, an “empirically designed” set of questions and answers that calculate which individuals pose the most public safety and flight risk hazards before trial. The Colorado legislature recommended this tool, which is based on hard research, to keep judges from using mere “gut instinct” to set bail. However, some counties use it inconsistently – and others not at all.
There are 12 questions that CPAT asks, eight of them from a face-to-face interview, and the other four from the criminal justice database. (If only one method is available, CPAT is not recommended.) Judges are supposed to look at:
- Whether the defendant has a home or cellphone
- Whether the defendant owns or rents a residence
- Whether the defendant contributes to rental payments
- Whether the defendant has problems with alcohol
- Whether the defendant has mental health issues
- What the defendant’s age was at time of his/her first arrest
- Any past jail sentences
- Any past prison sentences
- Any active warrants
- Any other pending cases
- Any current supervisions
- Any history of revoked bonds or supervisions
Each response is assigned a number score, and the individual is then graded from 0 points to the maximum 82 points. For example, if you own a home and cellphone, have never been arrested before, and have no history of alcohol abuse, you would likely be placed into Risk Category 1 and may be released on a personal recognizance bond – but it’s not a sure thing. Having an experienced attorney will ensure you get the best deal possible before trial – and increase the chance you’ll beat the charges altogether.
Why You Need a Great Lawyer
In an unusual move, a Park County court recently granted a $50,000 refund to a Florissant man accused of sexual assault. His original bail was set at $100,000 in October 2017, and he posted bond. However, his attorney argued for the reduction, stating that the man needed the money to pay his legal fees to defend himself. The judge agreed to lower the bond to $50,000 based on factors the attorney pointed out, leading to the $50,000 refund.
Colorado’s jails are grossly overcrowded, and nearly half the people in there are awaiting trial, unable to post bail. At The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., we’ve seen men and women stuck in county jail while innocent in the eyes of the law. Though some steps have been taken towards fixing this problem, such as the Colorado Pretrial Assessment Tool, the appointment of a Colorado blue-ribbon panel to study the issue, and the involvement of the ACLU, the best step you can take is to call a highly qualified Colorado lawyer to tackle your defense early, aggressively, and thoroughly.
At The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., we aggressively challenge the pretrial justice system to get our clients out of jail. Our clients are innocent until proven guilty, and you can’t be proven guilty without a trial. For a free consultation with a Colorado Springs criminal defense lawyer, please call us at (719) 475-2555.
New York Times: When Bail Feels Less Like Freedom, More Like Extortion