In Utah, when you are charged with a crime, you will either have a Summons or a Bail Amount.
The Bail Amount is supposed to be tied to two factors:
- Danger to Community
- Flight risk.
Bail amounts vary widely around the State and even within a particular office. Obviously, the more serious the crime, the higher bail amount that will likely be tied to it.
What are your options related to bail:
When a person is arrested and placed into jail by a law enforcement officer, the law enforcement officer will ask for a certain amount of bail. This bail amount can go either up or down once a prosecuting attorney reviews the case and determines what charges to file.
When deciding to bail yourself or a loved one out of jail, you have a couple of options. You can use a bail bondsman to post the bond. If you use a bail bondsman, you pay 10% to the bail bondsman as their fee and this money will not be returned. You also will likely have to have some collateral towards the rest of the bond. For example, on a $100,000 bail, you will pay $10,000 to the bondsman and then you may have to show $90,000 in collateral (house, car titles etc).
A second option is to pay cash bail. If you decide to post the entire bail in cash, you will get the money back at the end of the case. It is usually returned 30-45 days after sentencing or closing of the case.
When hiring an attorney, first speak to them about the bail issue. The charged person is entitled to a bail reduction hearing and your attorney can give you advice on whether that is likely to be a successful hearing. If you wait for the hearing, you or your loved one may remain in jail for an extra week to ten days, but you may ultimately pay less. If the bail is lowered at any time during the process and you have used a bail bondsman, you will likely not get any of your money back.
Ultimately, if your choice is between paying for an experienced attorney or bailing your loved one out, the conventional wisdom is to pay for the attorney if your funds are limited. However, each case is unique and the ultimate decision needs to be made by family members and the person who is incarcerated.
Immigration Hold (I.C.E. HOLD)
If you or your loved one is not in the country legally or has unique immigrations circumstances, you should contact an attorney before you start the bail process. There are unique circumstances that apply to I.C.E. holds and posting bail is not a guarantee that they will be released from jail.
In Utah, you can search for inmates in most of the county jails on the internet and determine if they have an I.C.E hold. Otherwise, you can contact the jail via phone.
Cara Tangaro, Utah Criminal Defense Attorney