DUI Arrest, Booking and Bail
Once you have been arrested for DUI/DWI, you will be kept in the police station. The police officer will conduct a background check on your. If you background check is all clear, you will be informed that you will be released upon payment of bail.
Generally, you will be released on bail if you do not have a criminal record. If you have a criminal record, you will have to wait until you are presented in court to be released on bail. If this is your first offense, the officer will determine your bail amount. When determining your bail amount, the officer will consider many factors. Generally, state and federal laws and decisions provide that the amount or terms of bail shall be set by taking into account the nature of the offense charged, the weight of evidence against the accused, his finances, employment, record, moral character, family ties, past criminal record, and prior flights from custody. These factors are in theory to be considered only as indicators of his likelihood to show up for trial, not as indications of whether he will be a danger to the community.
Bail schedules can vary considerably according to locality, type of crime, and residency. Generally, the bail for felony offenses is often five to time times higher than the bail for misdemeanor offenses. The bail amount is likely to be higher for more dangerous and serious offenses. Generally, the amount of bail is non-negotiable. The police cannot fix a bail amount that is lower than the amount under the schedule. If you want to reduce the amount of your bail, you will have to appear before a judge.
The judge sets the amount of bail after seeing the suspect. In setting bail, a judge follows a set of legal guidelines. As a general rule, a judge should:
- Set bail to ensure that the defendants will appear in court but not so high that it functions as an instrument of oppression.
- Consider the defendants’ ability to make bail i.e. their financial condition.
- Consider the defendants’ ties to the community – family, friends, job, length of residence and so on.
Using these guidelines the judge would set a low bail amount for defendants with few financial resources but strong community ties. The judge must balance the defendant’s right to bail against the victim’s rights and the community’s safety.
Sometimes the judge does not have to set bail, for instance if the defendants are charged with capital murder or with multiple crimes. In these cases the prosecutor files a motion to deny bail. The prosecutor must show the judge evidence that the defendant is guilty and in a capital murder case that they will probably receive death sentences.
When posting bail, defendants have three choices: surety bonds, cash bonds and personal bonds. Professional bond companies post surety bonds for a fee of usually 10% to 20% of the bail amount. Then they write a bond that obligates them to pay the county the entire sum if the defendant fails to appear in court when scheduled. The bond company’s fees are not refundable to the defendants. In many states, bond companies are licensed and must have a certain percentage of the bail bonds that they write deposited as cash with the local bail board.
Anyone can make a cash bond by simply depositing the amount of bail with the clerk of the court. If the defendant makes all scheduled court appearances, the bond is fully refundable after the case is over. Sometimes a judge will approve a percentage cash bond which allows the defendant to post a percentage of the total amount of bail. Such a bond is refundable at the conclusion of the case.
With personal bonds the defendant is released without any security. Basically, they are released from custody on the basis of their promise to appear in court. Many counties have pretrial release officers who prepare reports for the judge to determine whether or not to release the defendant on personal bonds. The release of a defendant on a personal bond is also referred to as release on own recognition.
Conditions on Bond
The judge may grant bail but impose certain conditions such as home confinement, electronic monitoring and weekly drug testing. If the defendant is released on his or her own recognition, the judge may impose alcohol testing and may require drug or alcohol treatment or education programs. In addition to these general conditions, the judge may also impose specific conditions for specific crimes.