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I posted this to I Love Lawyers this morning, but apparently that board is more secret than I realized. If any of the ilx attorneys are up and running around yet this morning, I'd be interested in your take on this situation.

I don't need personal legal advice, but I'm trying to make sense of a situation that one of our neighbors related to my wife. I consider the neighbor to be an unreliable source for a number of reasons, but wanted to run this by anyone here who knows better than I do.

*neighbor's husband was arrested for first and second degree assault (she told my wife "attempted murder" but I ran the guy through Maryland Judiciary Case Search" and that didn't show up at all).
*the guy went to trial and was found guilty of second degree assault. He got three years probation and has to do a few weekends in county.
* the women's parting advice to my wife was "if your husband ever gets arrested, don't bail him out because they don't give the money back. If you can't pay cash, they'll garnish your wages."

Now, I don't engage in any activity that could get me arrested. But I'm curious about her warning. I had always assumed that bail was returned to you if you appeared in court. Is she right about this? Or are there circumstances that could make this true in her and her husband's case?

how's life, Tuesday, 24 September 2013 12:48 (seven years ago) link

I have since learned that First Degree assault is an assault that could cause disability or death, so attempted murder is close and I can see how that would get mangled.

how's life, Tuesday, 24 September 2013 12:52 (seven years ago) link

"if your husband ever gets arrested, don't bail him out because they don't give the money back. If you can't pay cash, they'll garnish your wages."

My read of this is that she didn't really pay attention to whom and with what type of funds she was paying her husband's bail.

I don't do crim law, but my understanding is that bail is the payment of a sum to get someone out of jail. In the American justice system, that payment equals a bond that is supposed to secure your appearance at whatever type of adjudication hearing will be held on the matter. You show up, you get it repaid.

The problem arises when people can't afford to put up the money themselves on short notice, and have to use a bail bondsman. I have NO idea of what the terms of those arrangements are, but I cannot imagine they are anything but entirely advantageous to the bondsman - high interest rates, prepayment penalties - I just don't know.

But a situation where there is money paid and not returned sounds like someone bought someone's release, which is not the way it is supposed to work.

Sleep Deprivation Thriver (B.L.A.M.), Tuesday, 24 September 2013 13:24 (seven years ago) link

You pay a bondsman 10% of your bail. Not a bad deal for getting sprung if you have it on hand. At least that's how it is in GA. That neighbor is leaving something out. Like maybe dude didn't make his court date.

emilys., Tuesday, 24 September 2013 13:44 (seven years ago) link

Of course it is fucked up that the system favors people with money/property--if you're a poor person who can only manage 10% of a $1000 bond, you'll never see that money again, whereas a person of means gets it all back--but ain't that the way.

emilys., Tuesday, 24 September 2013 13:49 (seven years ago) link

Yeah, you pay the bail bondsman 10%, which you don't get back, and the bondsman puts up the full amount of the bail. You show up for court, the bail bondsman gets the money back, everybody is happy. If you don't show up for court, the bail bondsman forfeits the money he put up on your behalf and can come after you to get it back. As far as garnishing wages, I don't know for certain, but there are terms in the agreement about what happens if the person you're bonding out skips a court date and I could see garnishment being a consequence.

So just amend her statement to "If your husband ever gets arrested and he's the kind of jagoff who is going to skip out on a court date, don't bail him out."

I'm not a criminal lawyer (or a criminal... lawyer) but I have some personal experience with bail bondsmen (in GA, as it happens).

carl agatha, Tuesday, 24 September 2013 13:53 (seven years ago) link

Gotcha. This person had a stupendously high bail, since 1st degree assault is a felony. Essentially, she owes her bondsman a luxury sedan. That sucks. Y'all cleared things up a lot. Thanks B.L.A.M. and emilys and carl agatha.

how's life, Tuesday, 24 September 2013 13:55 (seven years ago) link

Hilarious story: we had to bail out a friend arrested in GA and the bondsman wouldn't bail him out unless we had somebody local to sign for him so we paid a crackhead* $100 to say he'd gone to college with our friend and sign the bond on his behalf. Later the friend** skipped out on his court date. :/

*I am not using that term casually.
**I am using the term "friend" casually.

carl agatha, Tuesday, 24 September 2013 13:57 (seven years ago) link

The look on the bondsman's face when the local dude said he was our friend's college buddy was pretty much the definition of skepticism.

carl agatha, Tuesday, 24 September 2013 13:58 (seven years ago) link

GA is an arrest-y state

emilys., Tuesday, 24 September 2013 14:08 (seven years ago) link

seven years pass...

a good, quick intro to bail and bail funds.

one thought i have afterward is how much bail money is in the system, at any given point? would it be possible to create a revolving bail fund that was large enough, and had enough liquidity, to cover everyone in the country? that seems like it would be a rather large amount of money, but it also seems like there are quite a few people with even larger amounts of money.

but it must not be so simple, because otherwise wouldn't some billionaire just single-handedly fund the revolving bail fund? if i understand the idea correctly, the fund wouldn't need to grow every year - it just needs to be large enough to work as a revolving fund for all the active cases. or not?

idkwtf (Karl Malone), Wednesday, 30 September 2020 19:27 (three months ago) link

three months pass...

Illinois just became the first state to end cash bail.

“Pretrial Fairness Act,” which ends cash bail among other things, passes the House on a vote of 60 to 50
Win for the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, though it seemed dicey there for a minute as 59 votes held. Members and staff embrace after passage.

— Hannah Meisel (@hannahmeisel) January 13, 2021

jaymc, Wednesday, 13 January 2021 17:59 (one week ago) link

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