Wooden gavel and block and green hardcover book on surface covered in hundred dollar bills

If you or someone you care about has been arrested you know how confusing the whole thing can be. What do you do now? Do you call the bail bond agent or a loved one or a lawyer? How does bail work anyway? Do you have to wait for a bail hearing or will someone inform you how much your bail is going to be? And what the heck is a bail schedule?

When a person is arrested in Colorado, it’s not as dramatic as it is in TV shows and movies. Most people, in fact, never go through a bail hearing. Instead, bail amounts for most crimes are pre-determined and kept on a list at the jail called a bail schedule. After you’re booked, the police refer to the bail schedule and then inform you of the bail amount. That’s when you call the bonding company, or have a loved one call the bondsman to arrange for bail.

The Bail Schedule Explained

A bail schedule does not list every possible crime along with the amount of bail for that crime. Instead, it will list different categories of crime and the associated bail amount. For instance, some misdemeanors may call for bail of $250, while a Class 1 felony may call for bail of $50,000. So the exact amount of bail you’ll be expected to pay will depend on the category your particular offense falls into. Keep in mind too that we’re talking in generalities here. Bail amounts often differ from city to city and county to county.

Most bail schedules are divided up into the aforementioned misdemeanors and felonies. Felonies are the more serious type of crime and so come with higher bail demands. Some felonies, such as first-degree murder, are not bail eligible. Misdemeanors can be anything from J-walking to resisting arrest and typically come with more modest bail amounts.

The Bail Bonding Process

When a person is arrested they are transported to jail and processed. In some cases, they will be released after being processed but in other cases, they will be placed in a holding cell and shortly thereafter the police will reference the bail schedule and inform them of their bail amount.

At that point, they can choose to pay the bail themselves using cash or a credit card, or they can call a loved one and ask them to come to the jail and post bail. Or they can ask that loved one to contact a bail bond company and arrange for bail to be posted. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours to be released once bail has been posted.

If a person is arrested for a particularly serious crime, or they are a repeat offender, or there are special circumstances associated with the crime, a bail hearing might be necessary. But again, in the vast majority of cases, police will determine the bail amount using a schedule.

What Happens Once Bail is Set?

Once bail has been determined using a bail schedule the accused will have 3 choices:

#1: They can choose to remain in jail

This is definitely the road less traveled but it does happen sometimes that a defendant will choose to remain in custody until they’ve had their day in court. Sometimes it’s because they can’t afford to post bail. Other times they fear for their safety if they are bailed out. And still, other times they have nothing to go home to if they are bailed out and so decide to stay where they are.

#2: They can choose to bail themselves out

There is no law that says a person who’s been arrested has to work with a bail bond agent. If they are able they may decide to simply pay the full bail amount themselves using cash or a credit card. This is not at all uncommon in cases where bail may be only a few hundred dollars, such as being arrested for driving with a suspended license. Using a credit card is probably the fastest way to get out of jail as it’s often a case of swiping and walking.

#3: They can get in touch with a bondsman

While some misdemeanor bail amounts are well within most people’s ability to pay, that’s not the case for more serious misdemeanors and felonies. For instance, if someone with a prior felony conviction is arrested for committing a crime using a firearm bail may be as high as $100,000. Few are the people who have that kind of money laying around. This is where the bail bond company comes in. In most cases, the accused will only need to come up with 10% of the total with the bondsman covering the rest. If they are convicted of the crime they’re accused of they will forfeit that 10%.

Closing Thoughts From Our Broomfield Bondsmen

If everyone was required to have a bail hearing the criminal justice system would grind to a halt. That’s why we have bail schedules. A bail schedule is used to help speed up the process of release for those accused of various criminal offenses and does a perfectly adequate job protecting the interests of the public in the vast majority of cases.

If you or a loved one have been arrested and are in need of affordable bail bonds get in touch with the team at Urban Bail Bonds through our online contact form or by calling (303) 736-2275. We provide fast, reliable 24 hour bail bonds.