Have you recently learned that an arrest warrant has been issued for your arrest in Idaho? Have you been investigated recently and know it’s only a matter of time before a warrant is issued? Usually when a criminal defendant is charged with a crime in Idaho, a warrant for the defendant’s arrest is issued. This is not always the case though, sometimes the court will issue a summons, which means the court is ordering you to come to court on your own accord.
So what does it mean when a warrant is issued for your arrest in Idaho? It means that a county judge has ordered law enforcement to arrest you, place you in the custody of the county jail, and then bring you to court to appear before the court. So that would naturally lead one to ask, do I have to stay in jail the whole time the case is pending?
When a county judge issues a warrant for your arrest, he will either place a bond on the warrant or he will require that you be held without bail until your first appearance. At your first appearance, the judge will hear bond arguments from both the state prosecuting attorney, and your criminal defense attorney. At this hearing the judge has two main concerns; are you a flight risk and are you a risk to the community?
If the judge believes you are a flight risk, or in other words if he believes that there is a chance you will miss your next court date, or skip town, then he will be inclined to set your bond very high. Additionally if he believes that you are going to pose a risk to the community such as causing violence to others, or causing a danger by drunken driving, then he will also be inclined to set the bond high. On the other hand, if the judge has reason to believe you have significant ties to the community such as having family and friends in the area, lived here a long time, own a home here, have a job here, etc., then the judge will feel more comfortable in setting a lower bond to secure your appearance in court. Also if the judge believes that the conduct you are accused of is an isolated incident if proven to be true, then he may feel comfortable in releasing you out into the community since you are not likely to do the same thing again.
The reason that a bond is higher when the judge believes you are a flight risk or a risk to the community is because of the belief that the more money that you put on the line, the more likely that you have a financial interest in showing up to court and behaving yourself. Once the case is complete, you will get the money that you posted back, as long as you came to every court date and behaved yourself while the case was pending. The judge is responsible for keeping the community safe, and ensuring that cases on his calendar are completed efficiently. Setting bond on cases is a tool that the judge uses to assist him with this responsibility.
Once the judge orders a bond amount, then you are expected to post the bond if you want to be released from custody. However, most bonds are much too high for most people to pay. For example, it is not uncommon for felonies to have a bond anywhere from $25,000-$1,000,000. That is why there is bondsman. A bondsman posts the entire bond for you, and asks that you that you pay only a percentage of that bond. The percentage is customarily 10% in Idaho, however if you hire a private attorney, or are military personnel, then the bondsman will only require 8%. What this means is, if you have a $100,000 bond, you will have to pay the bondsman $10,000 to bond out. But if you hire a private attorney, the bondsman will only require $8,000.
Sounds like a no-brainer right? Who would post the entire bond amount when you can have someone else do if for you for a fraction of the cost. Here is the catch, you don’t get back the percentage you post. The bondsman will get his entire amount back at the completion of the case, and also gets to keep your amount. That is how the bondsman makes a profit. The bondsman takes the risk that if you skip town, or misbehave, he could lose the money he put up for you. If you successfully complete your case, come to every court date, and behave yourself while out of custody, then the bondsman gets his money back, and pockets the money you gave him to bond you out.
So it makes sense that if you can afford it to bond yourself out, or in other words post the entire amount to the court. That way when all is said and done you get it all back. This is pretty common for misdemeanor cases since the bond is usually much lower. For example, most first time DUI cases are only $500. It doesn’t make sense in those cases to pay a bondsman since most people can post the entire $500. At the end of the case you will either get the money back, or the bond will be applied towards fines.
Something else to consider before bonding yourself out is weighing the benefit of being released against the benefit of receiving credit for time served. Sometimes a defendant knows he is guilty, knows his is likely to be found guilty and knows that in all likelihood is he is going to do some jail time. If that is the case, sometimes the defendant chooses to stay in jail while the case is pending so that he can get his jail sentence out of the way now rather than later.
If you have other questions regarding bonding yourself, or someone you love, out of jail then call a criminal defense attorney. Not all the issues surrounding bailing out of jail can be answered in one blog post.