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How the federal criminal justice system handles bail

The system of handling bail in a federal court is markedly different from the process one is accustomed to in a state court, and this creates much ambiguity and heartburn among members of the public. In the federal system one doesn’t have a bail bondsman rushing to jail to free our loved one, the very day that we come to know of the arrest and incarceration. The federal court entertains several types of bail and most take a couple of days to weeks to submit and finalize. The final decision vests with the judge presiding over the court or the magistrate.

The Appearance Bond

This is by far the easiest bond in the federal court system where a friend of a relative executes Form CR-04 the “affidavit of Surety (no justification)” where the person executing the bond guarantees payment of the bond amount to the court if the defendant skips hearing for any reason whatsoever.

Deciding the bail amount and the person who qualifies to act as surety for the bond amount is the exclusive prerogative of the Judge or Magistrate presiding over the court where the hearing is held. To qualify as a surety for the federal bail bond one has to be employed, having access to a steady income which is verifiable.

The Federal Bail Bonds

Also known as the Corporate Surety Bonds, in this form of bail which is quite similar to the state bail bond, the surety purchases insurance and submits that in court to act as a financial guarantee. The only difference is that such a guarantee involves not just assuring the court that the defendant will appear in court to attend hearings that he may summoned for, it also guarantees various other conditions that the judge may specify.

So eventually what the court gets is not just a financial guarantee but also a guarantee of performance of duties and obligations that the court enjoins on the defendant. This is therefore a bail bond guarantee which is more comprehensive in its coverage.

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Financial and performance guarantees

The performance clause may include such obligations as submitting to regular drug testing, complying with restrictions on travel, observing restraining orders in letter and spirit, subjecting oneself to pre-trial conferences and personal monitoring, among other conditions. If at any moment the court detects a violation, the bond is liable to be forfeited on demand and the full amount becomes payable by the bail bondsman or bail bonding company.

The immediate result of the higher risk associated with the federal bail bond is that the cost goes up beyond the state bail bond by almost 15% and there will be the additional need for substantial collateral to secure the bail bond. Normally, real estate is offered to secure such bonds and the onus is entirely on the judge to accept or reject a property offered as security.

Determining equity in properties for bail bonding purposes

The equity in the property must equal or exceed the bail amount demanded by court. There is an elaborate calculation used to arrive at the equity figure. First the current resale or market value of the property is determined and from that value the sum total of all outstanding liens or loans against the property are deducted. Let’s suppose we are dealing with a property that has an aggregate market value of $350,000. The same property has a mortgage with a loan balance of $100,000. In this case the court will likely fix the value of the property as $250,000. This is the maximum equity for this property as far as the court is concerned, and that is the amount which will be taken into consideration when the bail amount is decided and bond guarantee is requested.

Moving into the specifics, the defendant will need to produce his title documents to the property for verification before executing bond agreements. Because of the technicalities involved, bail bonding will need to be completed using the services of trusted and experienced professional bail bondsmen that have thorough knowledge of procedures. Courts do not readily agree of bond guaranteeing solutions and it needs a competent bondsman to process your request in such a manner that approval is guaranteed and you can move on quickly to free your loved one in custody.

The federal criminal justice system oversees and adjudicates cases where crime is committed on federal property or areas that are within federal jurisdiction. The system can be emotionally overwhelming, physically intimidating, and extremely confusing for victims that lose their way in the maze. The bail bondsman works within that system and knows the ins and outs and offers solutions matched to the crisis that ensure quick bail filing and approvals, besides extending maximum support to the victim and his family members.

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