Trials do not usually happen immediately after an arrest. Because someone is innocent until proven guilty, holding someone in jail until the trial without a conviction may be unnecessary and unjust punishment.
Rather than forcing the person facing charges to remain in custody until the trial, the judge may allow him or her to leave the jail by paying bail.
How does bail work?
The payment represents the defendant’s guarantee that he or she will show up at the trial. After the trial, the court typically returns the money to the defendant. Someone who is unable to make that payment must remain in custody.
How does a judge decide the bail amount?
Colorado law provides a guide for judges based on the level of the offense. However, the judge has latitude to adjust that amount based on:
- The strength of the evidence against the defendant
- The defendant’s ability to pay
- The defendant’s employment status
- The defendant’s character and reputation
There may be other factors that the judge finds relevant, as well. However, if the penalty for the offense is a fine only, then bail cannot exceed the amount of the fine.
How can a bail bonding agent help?
Bail is often several thousands of dollars, and many people do not have that much immediately available, so they may call a bail bonding agent. The defendant pays the bail bonding agent a fee, which may be 15% of the total amount. If the amount is high or the defendant has a cosigner, the agent may lower the percentage.
What offenses require bail?
Colorado law lists a wide range of offenses that may require bail, from traffic offenses to assault and burglary. The judge cannot set a bail amount for someone charged with a Class 1 felony. If the defendant allegedly committed a violent offense while currently on probation or parole, he or she is not eligible for bail.