A person accused of committing a crime in Virginia will frequently have the opportunity to get out of jail before trial due to release on bail. When a person is arrested and charged, a police officer can either release the defendant with a ticket or take the person into custody. Bail is a specific amount of money set by a court that is meant to guarantee the presence of the defendant at a later court appearance on the charges in question.
Defendants can post bail themselves, or it can be posted for them by another person, including a family member, friend or colleague. However, first bail must be set by the court. Courts consider a few factors when determining the amount. These include potential danger to the community, whether the charge is a violent one and whether the defendant poses a threat of fleeing the jurisdiction. Some defendants are denied bail, especially in cases that indicate a threat to the broader community or that carry a life sentence on conviction.
When people cannot pay for bail themselves, they or their loved ones often enlist the services of a bail bond agent. In this case, they pay the bail bondsman a fee equal to a percentage of the total bail amount. The bail bondsman agrees with the court to pay the rest of the amount if the defendant fails to appear.
A criminal defense lawyer can assist in defending a client from the first moments after arrest. A lawyer can argue for reduced bail or release without bail at all while preparing a strategy to defend against the charges.