*This article is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice.

When you go through a PeopleFinders criminal records check, you need to be able to navigate the complex legal vocabulary that can cloud a person’s background. “Bail,” as a term, appears frequently in criminal record checks. This term does more than describe a legal consequence. If you’re going to properly interpret your criminal record check, then you’ll need to understand how legal officials utilize this term and what it describes.

What Is Bail?

If you’ve been summoned to court, police officers require you to submit a guarantee that you will appear in court upon the appropriate date. Instead of relying on the written word, officers use bail to represent that guarantee.

When you pay bail, you pay the legal system a set amount of money to be legally released from police custody. Upon paying bail, you’re guaranteeing the officers present and a representative of the legal system that you will answer your court summons for as long as your trial takes.

So long as you do as you say you will, the legal system will refund your bail payment. However, if you flee from the legal system, you will not receive a bail refund, and you can be arrested again.

How Is Bail Determined?

There are a number of variables that help legal officials determine how much to charge an individual for their bail. Even though bail proceedings differ by state and country, most courts hold bail hearings to determine:

  • Whether or not the person in question should be granted bail
  • How much the person in question should be charged

If you are awarded bail, then a judge and relevant officiants will determine how much to charge you for your release. To do so, a judge will assess the severity of the charges against you. This will include an assessment of your threat level and subsequent ability to threaten the community in which you live.

During these appointments, the court will also consider:

  • Your physical, emotional and mental well-being
  • Your finances
  • Your family
  • How long you’ve lived in the area
  • Any history of substance abuse
  • Your criminal history
  • Previous court appearances

Once the amount of your bail has been determined, you will be required to bring it forward or to forfeit your right to release. If you choose to accept leave on bail, then you may have other restrictions placed on your behavior. This includes the removal of guns from your home, house arrest, a limit on your movement, a curfew, or frequent required drug tests.

What Are The Different Types of Bail?

There are several different types of bail, including:

  • Cash Bond – A cash bond is the most straightforward type of bail. If you are able to pay your bail up front, using either cash or check, then you won’t need the assistance of a bail bonds company. Under these circumstances, your money will be used as collateral, and you’ll be able to leave police custody while also accepting any additional conditions that the court opts to award you.
  • Surety Bond – Surety bonds are services presented by a bail bonds company. These bonds – and the applicable company – claim responsibility for a defendant’s bail, and they will forfeit that bail if the defendant doesn’t show up for the applicable court dates.
  • Recognizance - A bail hearing may be held, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be awarded bail. On one hand, a judge could state that you have not earned bail, thus forcing you to remain in police custody. On the other hand, you may receive a recognizance. Under these circumstances, bail is awarded, but the judge in question will dismiss the applicable fees based on the behavior and promises of the defendant.
  • Property Bond – If you don’t have the cash to pay off your bail upon your bail hearing, you can work with a bail bonds company to use your home or property as financial collateral. This is called a property bond.
  • Immigration Bond – If a defendant has not legally immigrated to the United States, then their bail and case will be sent to the Federal bail bond. The Federal bail bond will then collaborate with the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as the Department of Homeland Security, to either meet the defendant’s bail or forgo their right to bail.

Note that choosing to work with a bail bond company or agent requires you to pay the agent between ten and twenty percent of your bail. Your bail bond agent will then see to it that your bail is paid in full and that you’re removed from police custody.

What Does Bail Mean in a Criminal Records Report?

When you perform a criminal records check at PeopleFinders, you’ll be able to see whether or not an individual was awarded bail and whether or not that person was able to pay their bail. Make sure you read this information carefully so you can fully understand the record you’ve accessed through a criminal records check.