If someone you know has been arrested in Pennsylvania, you may be wondering about the bail process. It’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the legal processes where you live. Then you can ensure that your rights and the rights of others are being observed correctly.
Arrest and Bail
Upon being arrested, the defendant will appear before the Magisterial District Judge, who then sets bail. The purpose of bail is to assure that the defendant sticks around for court proceedings. If the defendant cannot pay the bail that is set by the judge, the defendant goes to jail to await trial.
The amount of bail is determined by several factors: the defendant’s previous criminal history, the seriousness of the crime, the defendant’s flight risk, and how strong the case against the defendant is. For first and second-degree murder cases in Pennsylvania, where conviction may carry a life sentence, there is no bail. When the bail amount is high and the defendant cannot pay it, Pennsylvania bail bonds can be brought into use.
A bail bondsman pays the bail in exchange for a fee, which is typically 10 to 13% of the bail amount. This is known as a bail bond. The bail bond is essentially a surety bond, meaning the bondsman is vouching for the defendant and asserting that he or she will show up for their court date. If the defendant fails to show, the bondsman may hire a bounty hunter to take the defendant to jail.
If the defendant shows up to court, the money put up by the bondsman or the bail put up by the defendant is returned. If the defendant skips out and does not come to court the money is kept by the court and a warrant is issued for the arrest of the defendant.