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Last Updated on: 10th October 2023, 05:07 pm
Answering FAQs About Bail and Bonds in Philadelphia
Dealing with bail and bonds can be confusing for anyone facing criminal charges in Philadelphia. You probably have a ton of questions about how bail works, your options after an arrest, using bail bonds, and more. Don’t worry – this guide breaks it all down in simple terms to help you understand the bail process and your rights.
What is bail?
Bail is money defendants pay to the court in order to be released from jail before their trial. Judges set bail amounts based on factors like the charges against you, your criminal record, flight risk, and danger to the community. The purpose is to ensure you return for required court dates.
How is bail set in Philadelphia?
In Philadelphia, a bail commissioner or judge will decide conditions of release at your preliminary arraignment within 48 hours after arrest. Bail can be set as:
- Unsecured – Released without paying, but owe if don’t appear in court
- Cash – Must pay bail amount in cash upfront to be released
- Surety – Allowed to pay a bondsman 10% of bail to post bond
What factors determine bail?
Main factors determining bail include:
- Safety of the community
- Severity of charges
- Prior record and compliance with court dates
- Roots in the community like job, family, property
Can I pay bail in installments?
Philadelphia allows paying 10% of bail upfront directly to the court and the rest in monthly installments. You must pay the full bail amount before your case ends. Talk to your lawyer about this option.
What if I can’t afford bail?
If you truly can’t afford bail, your lawyer can request reduced bail or release on non-monetary conditions. Poverty alone shouldn’t keep someone jailed pre-trial. Ask your attorney about options.
What is a bail bond?
A bail bond allows you to pay a bondsman typically 10% of the full bail amount upfront as a non-refundable fee. The bondsman posts a bond with the court as collateral to cover the remaining bail if you fail to appear.
How do I get a bail bond in Philadelphia?
Private bail bondsmen are legal in Philadelphia. Shop around to compare rates and repayment terms. Get receipts for all payments and read the agreement carefully before signing. Ask lots of questions upfront to avoid surprises.
Can I get my bail money back?
Bail paid to the court in cash will be returned to you or whoever paid it, minus court fees, after your case ends provided you attended all required court dates. But bail bond fees paid to a bondsman are non-refundable.
What if I miss court after posting bail?
If you fail to appear, the court will issue a bench warrant for your arrest. Police can detain you anywhere until a new court date. Cash bail paid to the court will be forfeited. Make all required appearances or face new charges!
Can bail be denied in Philadelphia?
Yes, judges can deny bail by issuing a “no bail hold” in cases like:
- Murder or other very serious crimes
- Repeat violent offenders
- Defendants deemed high flight risks
For less serious crimes, excessive bail amounts may be set so high that defendants cannot pay for release.
What are common bail amounts in Philadelphia?
Bail amounts vary widely by charges. Some examples of typical bail ranges:
- Misdemeanors – $500 to $5,000
- Nonviolent felonies – $5,000 to $50,000
- Violent felonies – $25,000 to $500,000+
- Murder – $1 million+
Ask your lawyer what bail amount you can reasonably expect.
Can I get bail reduced?
If bail seems unreasonable, your lawyer can file a motion asking the judge to lower it. Factors like being a low flight risk, having community ties, or excessively high bail for the charges may persuade the court.
What if I violate bail terms?
Any violation of your bail agreement – like missing court, getting re-arrested, contacting victims, etc – may cause bail to be revoked. You can be detained until trial. Never violate your bail terms.
How does bail impact my criminal case?
Paying bail itself does not affect the outcome of your criminal charges. But being jailed pre-trial can impact things like your access to your lawyer, evidence gathering, and testimony from witnesses.
What about bail after conviction?
After conviction but before sentencing, the court has discretion over bail. Factors like flight risk and danger to the public still apply. Talk to your lawyer about options.
The bail process in Philadelphia can seem complicated, but learning your rights goes a long way. Lean on expert legal guidance to make informed decisions about bail and bonds after an arrest.
Sources: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_education/resources/law_related_education_network/how_courts_work/bail/  https://www.phila.gov/media/20201204091608/Bail-Reform-Report.pdf  https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/how-bail-set.html  https://www.phila.gov/media/20201204091608/Bail-Reform-Report.pdf  https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/bail-getting-out-of-jail-30225.html  https://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/bail-bond.asp