Interviewer: Then, in terms of bail, if the judge sets a $10,000 bail, does that mean you have to pay $10,000 to get out or do you pay a percentage? What are the types of bail that are out there?
Freddy: There are several different types of bail. I’ll talk about two of them. One of them is called PR bond. That term stands for Personal Recognizance bond. What that means is that the judge is letting you out on your own, personal recognizance, basically, on your own promise that you will be able to come back at a later time and go to court on charges. There may be an amount, such as $10,000 PR bonds, which is what we call it, where the judge says, “We’re going to let you out. You don’t have to pay any money now but once the case is set for court, if you do not come back for court, then you’ll owe the court $10,000.”
Surety Bonds and Bail Bondsman
Another type of bail or bond is called a Surety Bond. What that means is, let’s say in the same scenario, the judge sets a $10,000 surety bond. That means that you have to either have $10,000 in cash, $10,000 in property, that is property that is free and clear, that does not have a lien or encumbrance on it in your name, or family member to sign if it’s in their name, with at least $10,000 of value, or the amount of the bail, in value, or you can have a bondsman. A bondsman will usually charge you 10 to 15 percent of the amount of the bond.
For example, if you have a $10,000 bond, a bondsman will charge you $1,000 or $1,500, for them to be able to say that if you do not come to court, they will be responsible for paying your bond.
Interviewer: So, are there any other documents, like indictments, subpoenas that people can receive, so, instead of just being arrested, that would let them know that they’re going to be facing criminal charges?
Freddy: Well, there could be an indictment that is carried down. For example, it usually happens in a conspiracy case, or either a state or federal case. In a state case that means that it’s within the state that you live in or in a particular state, such as the state of South Carolina, for example. In a federal case, that means that it can be in anywhere in the federal jurisdiction of the 50 states or of the U.S. states or territories, that a crime has been committed.
There’s usually an indictment that’s handed down that says this person has committed a particular crime or an arrest warrant that says that this person has committed a certain crime. Then, the authorities are looking to pick you up and put you in jail long enough for you to be able to make bail and answer for that particular crime.
What Is An Indictment?
Interviewer: I see. So, then, an indictment is what?
Freddy: The best way to describe an indictment, or an arrest warrant, or warrant, all generally about the same thing, is where, for example, in a warrant, they have a sheet of paper with your name, your address, your height and weight and different descriptive things about you and then, it may say on the side, “Conspiracy, that on or about this date and time this person did conspire with another person to sell drugs or do something of that nature.”
In that, now that the court has a piece of paper, that the law enforcement officers can use to say, “We have a warrant for your arrest. This is what the warrant says that you’ve done. Please come with us. We’re going to take you to jail.” You’re going to be processed there. If the bail is set, you can make bail. You should get an attorney that will help you move forward with your case. Its usually more beneficial to you to do so.
It is the prosecutor’s duty to prove you innocent beyond a reasonable doubt. It is the defense attorney’s job to help guide you through that case, and, if you are not guilty, it is the defense attorney’s job to be able to show that in court. So an arrest warrant or indictment is what the officers use to come and physically arrest you.
How Can You Discover if You’ve Been Indicted?
Interviewer: So, do you have cases where people want to know if they have a warrant out of them and, if so, how do they find out if they have a warrant out on them?
Freddy: Usually the only way that you can find out that you have a warrant is for you to call an attorney, because, if you don’t, what happens is this: Let’s say that they have a warrant out for your arrest and they say, “We have a warrant out for Richard.” Well, in that particular scenario, Richard can call the warrant division and ask if there’s a warrant. They will ask him his name, his address, where he is and tell him he needs to come in. All they’re really doing is getting more information and verifying the information. Then, they’re going to come pick you up. So, most people don’t want to call on a warrant, at that time.
But if they call an attorney, an attorney can call the warrant division and say, “Hey, I got a call from Richard and Richard says that he has a warrant. This is his age. I don’t have his date of birth. This is his full name. Can you give me some idea if whether there’s a warrant?” And warrant division officers will usually tell the attorney, yes, there’s a warrant for your arrest.
If there’s a warrant for your arrest, the attorney can also come with you or arrange for a time for you to go to court, be processed through, have a bail or bond immediately and then get processed out. That’s usually in your best interest because you’re only there in court for a matter of hours instead of being put in a cell, putting on an orange jumpsuit and being shackled and waiting for the judge to show up at whatever particular time. Usually, your attorney argues your bail or bonds, so it’s usually less, every single time.
By Freddy Woods