Stages Of A Criminal Case Booking And Bail

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Booking
After an arrest takes place, booking will occur. Booking is the processing of a suspect into police custody. After booking, the suspect\'s eligibility for bail is determined. Not every suspect will be granted the option to post bail.

Booking, or processing of a suspect, involves several procedures. An officer will take down the suspect's personal information, including name, date of birth, residence, and previous arrests and convictions. Notes concerning the suspect's alleged crime will often be taken. Any personal property that the suspect has on his or her person will also be confiscated at this time. A criminal background check will be conducted. The suspect will then be fingerprinted and photographed. Generally, the suspect will then be taken to a local jail if the crime is considered serious. If the crime is considered minor, he or she may be given a citation, including information concerning the date, time, and location of his or her court date, and then released.

Bail
If bail is granted to a suspect, the suspect can pay a set amount of money to be released from jail. The bail amount will be given back if the suspect appears in court on his or her court date. If the suspect fails to show up in court on his or her court date, the bail will be kept and a warrant for the suspect's arrest will be issued by the court.

Generally, judges set the bail amount. Many people do not want to stay in jail and wait for the judge\'s decision, so a lot of jails have standard bail schedules with specific bail amounts for common crimes. By paying this amount, an arrested person can get out of jail quickly.

The amount set by the judge is not usually considered excessive. The Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution requires that bail not be excessive. This means that bail should not be used in order to raise money for the government or to punish a person for being suspected of committing a crime. The purpose of bail is to give an arrested person their freedom until they are convicted. In some cases, however, the judge will set a bail amount that is very high, with the intent of keeping the suspect in jail for the duration of his or her trial. When this occurs the bail is set for preventative detention, which is thought by many to violate the Constitution. A request to lower the bail amount can be made in most states. Bail simply allows a suspect his or her freedom until a verdict has been reached regarding the crime committed.

Bail bonds are common in the United States. A bail bond is initially obtained by a suspect through a deposit on the set bail amount. The deposit is a small percentage of the set bail amount. The deposit may not be refundable. Also, collateral may be required in order to secure a bail bond. If the suspect fails to show for the trial, the person or company which issued the bail bond can seize the suspect's collateral.

Bail can be paid with cash, check, property, a bond, or a waiver of payment on the condition that the defendant appear in court at the required time. A bail bond is like a check in reserve that represents the person\'s obligation that they will appear in court when required to. This is usually purchased by payment of nonrefundable premium—often 10 percent of the amount of the bond.

Sometimes people are released "on their own recognizance," or "O.R." If a defendant is released on O.R., they must sign a written contract that they will attend court when scheduled. Generally those who are released on O.R. have strong relations with their community which makes it less likely that they will flee to avoid trial. Some of the factors which may lower the flight risk of a particular individual are if the defendant\'s parents or family live in the community; if the defendant has resided in that location for several years; if the defendant holds a job in that location; if the defendant has a small or non-existent criminal record; or the defendant has committed previous crimes and has always shown up for court. If the judge does not grant O.R., the defendant may ask for the bail to be set at a lower cost.

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