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Forms of bail The form of bail varies from jurisdiction, but the common forms of bail include:

Recognizance — a promise made by the accused to the court that he/she will attend all required judicial proceedings and will not engage in further illegal activity or other prohibited conduct as set by the court. Typically a monetary amount is set by the court, but is not paid by the defendant unless it is forfeited by the court; this is denominated an unsecured appearance bond.

Surety
— when a third party agrees to be responsible for the debt or obligation of the defendant. In many jurisdictions this service is provided commercially by a bail bondsman, where the agent will receive 10% of the bail amount up front and will keep that amount whether the defendant appears in court or not. The court in many jurisdictions, especially jurisdictions that prohibit bail bondsmen, may demand a certain amount of the total bail (typically 10%) be given to the court, which, unlike with bail bondsmen, is returned if the defendant does not violate the conditions of bail.

Release on Conditions
- many varied non-monetary conditions and restrictions on liberty can be imposed by a court to ensure that a person released into the community will appear in court and not commit any more crimes. Common examples include: mandatory calls to the police, surrendering passports, home detention, electronic monitoring, drug testing, alcohol counseling, surrendering firearms.

Orders of Protection - one very common feature of any conditional release, whether on bail, bond or condition, is a court order requiring the defendant to refrain from criminal activity against the alleged crime victim, or stay away from and have no contact with the alleged crime victim. The former is a limited order, the latter a full order. Violation of the order can subject the defendant to automatic forfeiture of bail and further fine or imprisonment.

Cash — typically "cash only", where the defendant must provide the amount of the bail to the court.

Combinations* - courts often allow defendants to post cash bail or bond, and then impose further conditions, as mentioned above, in order to protect the community or ensure attendance. Bail may be forfeited, and the defendant remanded to jail, for failure to appear when required.

In the UK there are three types of bail:
 1. Police Bail where a suspect is released without being charged but must return to the police station at a given time .

2.Police to Court where having been charged a suspect is given bail but must attend his first court hearing at the time and Court given

3.Court bail where having already been in court a suspect is granted bail pending further investigation or while the case continues .    

Bail law in England and Wales

History

In medieval England, the sheriffs originally possessed sovereign authority to release or hold suspected criminals. Some sheriffs would exploit the bail for their own gain. The Statute of Westminster (1275) limited the discretion of sheriffs with respect to the bail. Although sheriffs still had the authority to fix the amount of bail required, the statute stipulates which crimes are bail able and which ones are not.

In the early 17th century, King Charles I ordered noblemen to issue him loans. Those who refused were imprisoned. Five of the prisoners filed a habeas corpus petition arguing that they should not be held indefinitely without trial or bail. In the Petition of Right (1628) the Parliament argued that the King had flouted the Magna Carta by imprisoning people without just cause.

The Habeas Corpus Act (1679) states, "A Magistrate shall discharge prisoners from their Imprisonment taking their Recognizance, with one or more Surety or Sureties, in any Sum according to the Magistrate's discretion, unless it shall appear that the Party is committed for such Matter or offenses for which by law the Prisoner is not bailable."

The English Bill of Rights (1689) states that "excessive bail hath been required of persons committed in criminal cases, to elude the benefit of the laws made for the liberty of the subjects. Excessive bail ought not to be required." This was a precursor of the Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution.

Current practice

Under current law, a defendant has the right to bail unless there is sufficient reason not to grant it. The main reasons for refusing bail according to the Bail Act 1976 are that there are substantial grounds for believing that the defendant (1) will abscond; (2) will commit further offences whilst on bail; or (3) will interfere with witnesses. Conditions may be applied to the grant of bail, such as living at a particular address or, rarely, paying an amount into court or having someone act as surety. Release on bail is sometimes referred to as police bail, where the release was by the police rather than by a court. The alternative to being granted bail is being remanded into custody (also called being held on remand).

Bail law in the United States

 In pre-independence America, bail law was based on English law. Some of the colonies simply guaranteed their subjects the protections of British law. In 1776, after the Declaration of Independence, those which had not already done so, enacted their own versions of bail law. Section 9 of Virginia's 1776 Constitution states "excessive bail ought not to be required..."

In 1785, the following was added, "Those shall be let to bail who are apprehended for any crime not punishable in life or limb...But if a crime be punishable by life or limb, or if it be manslaughter and there be good cause to believe the party guilty thereof, he shall not be admitted to bail."

 Section 29 of the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776 states "Excessive bail shall not be exacted for bailable offenses".

The Eighth Amendment in the US Federal Bill of Rights is derived from the Virginia Constitution, "Excessive bail shall not be required...", in regard to which Samuel Livermore commented, "The clause seems to have no meaning to it, I do not think it necessary. What is meant by the term excessive bail...?!" The Supreme Court has never decided whether the constitutional prohibition on excessive bail applies to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Sixth Amendment, to the Constitution, like the English Habeas Corpus Act of 1678, requires that a suspect must "be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation" and thus enabling a suspect to demand bail if accused of a bail able offence.

The Judiciary Act of 1789

In 1789, the same year that the Bill of Rights was introduced, Congress passed the Judiciary Act of 1789. This specified which types of crimes were bail able and set bounds on a judge's discretion in setting bail. The Act states that all non-capital crimes are bailable and that in capital cases the decision to detain a suspect, prior to trial, was to be left to the judge.

The Judiciary Act states, "Upon all arrests in criminal cases, bail shall be admitted, except where punishment may be by death, in which cases it shall not be admitted but by the supreme or a circuit court, or by a justice of the supreme court, or a judge of a district court, who shall exercise their discretion therein."

The Bail Reform Act of 1966

 In 1966, Congress enacted the Bail Reform Act of 1966 which states that a non-capital defendant is to be released, pending trial, on his personal recognizance or on personal bond, unless the judicial officer determines that such incentives will not adequately assure his appearance at trial. In that case, the judge must select an alternative from a list of conditions, such as restrictions on travel. Individuals charged with a capital crime, or who have been convicted and are awaiting sentencing or appeal, are to be released unless the judicial officer has reason to believe that no conditions will reasonably assure that the person will not flee or pose a danger. In non-capital cases, the Act does not permit a judge to consider a suspect's danger to the community, only in capital cases or after conviction is the judge authorized to do so.

The 1966 Act was particularly criticized within the District of Columbia, where all crimes formerly fell under Federal bail law. In a number of instances, persons accused of violent crimes committed additional crimes when released on their personal recognizance. These individuals were often released yet again.

The Judicial Council committee recommended that, even in non-capital cases, a person's dangerousness should be considered in determining conditions for release. The District of Columbia Court Reform and Criminal Procedure Act of 1970 allowed judges to consider dangerousness and risk of flight when setting bail in noncapital cases.

Current U.S. bail law

 In 1984 Congress replaced the Bail Reform Act of 1966 with new bail law, codified at United States Code, Title 18, Sections 3141-3150. The main innovation of the new law is that it allows pre-trial detention of individuals based upon their danger to the community; under prior law and traditional bail statutes in the U.S., pre-trial detention was to be based solely upon the risk of flight.

18 USC 3142(f) provides that only persons who fit into certain categories are subject to detention without bail: persons charged with a crime of violence, an offense for which the maximum sentence is life imprisonment or death, certain drug offenses for which the maximum offense is greater than 10 years, repeat felony offenders, or if the defendant poses a serious risk of flight, obstruction of justice, or witness tampering. There is a special hearing held to determine whether the defendant fits within these categories; anyone not within them must be admitted to bail.

State bail laws

Bail laws vary somewhat from state to state, as is typical of U.S. jurisprudence. Generally, a person charged with a non-capital crime is presumptively entitled to be granted bail. Recently, some states have enacted statutes modeled on federal law which permit pretrial detention of persons charged with serious violent offenses, if it can be demonstrated that the defendant is a flight risk or a danger to the community.

Bail bondsman

A bail bondsman is any person or corporation which will act as a surety and pledge money or property as bail for the appearance of a criminal defendant in court. Although banks, insurance companies and other similar institutions are usually the sureties on other types of contracts, for example, to bond a contractor who is under a contractual obligation to pay for the completion of a construction project, such entities are reluctant to put their depositors' or policyholders' funds at the kind of risk involved in posting a bail bond.

Bail bondsmen, on the other hand, are usually in the business to cater exclusively to criminal defendants, often securing their customers' release in just a few hours.

Bail bondsmen are almost exclusively found in the United States, as in most other countries bail is usually more modest, and the practice of bounty hunting is illegal.

Bondsmen usually have a standing security agreement with local court officials, in which they agree to post an irrevocable "blanket" bond, which will pay the court if any defendant for whom the bondsman is responsible does not appear. The bondsman usually has an arrangement with a bank or another credit provider to draw on such security, even during hours when the bank is not operating. This eliminates the need for the bondsman to deposit cash or property with the court every time a new defendant is bailed out.

Bondsmen generally charge a fee of 10% of the total amount of the bail required in order to post a bond for the amount. This fee is not refundable and represents the bondsman's compensation for his or her services. As the practice of paying a 10% cash premium for a bond became widespread, some courts have recently instituted a practice of accepting 10% of the bond amount in cash, for example, by requiring a $10,000 bond or $1,000 in cash. In jurisdictions where the 10% cash alternative is available, the deposit is usually returned if the case is concluded without violation of the conditions of bail. This has the effect of giving the defendant or persons giving security for the defendant a substantial incentive to make the cash deposit rather than using a bail bondsman.

 For large bail amounts, bondsmen can generally obtain security against the assets of the defendant or persons willing to assist the defendant. For example, for a $100,000 bond for a person who owns a home, the bondsman would charge $10,000 and take a mortgage against the house for the full penal sum of the bond.

If the defendant fails to appear in court, the bondsman is allowed by law and/or contractual arrangement to bring the defendant to the jurisdiction of the court in order to recover the money paid out under the bond, usually through the use of a bounty hunter. The bondsman is also allowed to sue the defendant for any money forfeited to the court should the defendant fail to appear.

In most jurisdictions, bondsmen have to be licensed to carry on business within the state. Several unusual organizations often provide bail bonds. For example, AAA (formerly the American Automobile Association) offers a bail bond service to its members who are jailed for ordinary traffic offenses to prevent law enforcement officials from threatening lengthy remand periods before trial if the alleged offender does not plead guilty at arraignment.

Four states—Illinois, Kentucky, Oregon, and Wisconsin—have completely banned commercial bail bonding, usually substituting the 10% cash deposit alternative described above. However, some of these states specifically allow AAA and similar organizations to continue providing bail bond services pursuant to insurance contracts or membership agreements.