How To Find A Bail Amount

Tracking down a bail amount for yourself, a friend or a family member can be difficult if you are not sure where to look. This guide will show you several possible ways to find it. Keep in mind that different counties and states have different procedures for communicating bail amounts.

When Is Bail Set?

As a rule, bail is set when a person is arrested. That bail amount stands at least until the arraignment, which is the first hearing in the case. This provides an opportunity to bail the person out of jail. In large cities, a person may have to wait several days before seeing a judge for an arraignment. However, the arrested individual still has ways to find the bail amount. For example, people who are arrested in Los Angeles are given a piece of paper with their charges, bail amount and arrest number after being arrested and booked. This allows the inmate to call a friend or family member and communicate their reference number and bail amount if they do not want to spend a few days in jail waiting to see a judge.

Ways To Find A Bail Amount

You can take the first step in two different ways. If you prefer to make phone calls, contact the jailer at the jail facility where an inmate is located. You can call several local jails if you are unsure about the facility location of the inmate. You will need to obtain the person’s inmate number or case number. Also, you can try to look up the information online. Search for the local sheriff’s department or county jail site. If they have an online tool for looking up an inmate based on last name and birthdate, you can usually find the case number this way. The bail amount may also be listed with the information. If this is the case, you can skip calling the courthouse.

Next, contact the courthouse. Again, you may be able to access the court information online instead of calling. This is helpful if you need the information when the courthouse is closed. If you prefer to call or if the courthouse does not post much information online, contact the clerk’s office. The clerk will ask for several bits of information such as the inmate’s name, birthdate, case number and several other details. If the clerk does not provide the bail information, he or she will refer you to the right department.

If your goal is to bail someone out of jail immediately, you can skip the previous steps. By contacting a bail agent instead, it is easier to find the information. The bail agent usually obtains this after asking for a few personal details about the inmate. If the individual needs an attorney or there is a family attorney on retainer, try contacting the attorney. Lawyers often set up bail arrangements and can find the bail amount quickly.

When To Wait

If the bail amount is too high for an affordable bond and the person has not been arraigned yet, you can wait until after the arraignment to post bail. The judge may reduce the bail amount during the arraignment if a bail reduction is requested. Also, an inmate can ask for a bail hearing after an arraignment to request a bail reduction.

What to Do When You Get Pulled Over

 

If you spend enough time driving on the roads, you will most likely get pulled over. Whether it is for speeding, making an illegal u turn, having a tail light go out or any other reason, it is very important to remain calm and follow this procedure so a simple traffic stop does not escalate into something a lot more serious.

 

When You First See the Police Car

 

Pull over safely and quickly. Make sure to use your turn signals and pull over as far to the right of the shoulder as possible (if on the highway). Some police officers may be extremely high strung so it is important to show that you will be complying with them even before you actually meet them at your car window.

 

When the Police Officer is at Your Car

 

For many police officers even a simple traffic stop can end up in a life threatening situation. It is very important to show the police officer that you will not be a potential aggressor. Roll down your window and place your hands on the steering wheel. Always be polite and non confrontational, there is a lot to lose and not very much to gain for being rude to a police officer. When the officer asks to see identification or insurance documents, inform him where those documents are before you reach for them. Some police officers can see a sudden reach into a glove compartment as an aggressive move.

 

Unless Asked to Step Out, Stay in Your Car

 

Stay in your car during the duration of the traffic stop unless otherwise directed by the police officer. Getting out of your car during a traffic stop can lead to an unpleasant situation for you and could possibly lead to your arrest.

 

Following these procedures will ensure that your traffic stop goes as smoothly as possible and will stop you from running into legal trouble beyond the original cause of the traffic stop.

 

How to Get Your Record Expunged

People make mistakes. Having a permanent record can deter you from obtaining employment, moving into certain homes, or more. Expunging your record means to erase or remove that record permanently. This would mean that you never have to reveal that that record ever existed. Different states are going to have different rules regarding having charges expunged.

Expunging your record is not difficult if you are eligible, and if you know the proper steps. In an effort to contact your state to determine if a charge can be expunged, some research is necessary. All of the details for the record are needed to attempt to have it removed. You must know the date of arrest, case number, arresting agency, fill out, print, and mail to the expunging authority. charges, disposition, and ending date of case. Most of this information can be found on a background check if it is not readily available. Contact the state to determine what forms you will need to submit with them. Often, forms are available online to

Consider other options such as sealing or pardoning. If expunging is not a viable option, maybe consider sealing the charges. Expunging a record is different than sealing a record, as sealing means related documentation may just be sealed from the public eye. This does not erase the record completely, nor any of the sealed details. It simply means not everyone can publicly view the sealed details. Forms are typically available on the states’ websites, though petitioning the court directly is also an option. Some states allow pardons for certain crimes. However, this is very rare. Some states have applications for pardons online. Similar to pardons, some states also have applications for certificates of innocence or rehabilitation. Although pardons and expunges attempt to serve the same purpose, expunges are less difficult to obtain.

An expungement is typically only available for certain individuals. Those with a single drug offense can typically qualify. Sentencing may require completion of rehabilitation prior to having the record expunged. First time offenders with no offenses after a year are strong candidates. Expungement is also considered for juveniles or first-time offenders, or those not being charged with felonies.

It is helpful to have a great defense attorney assist with working out expungement within the initial agreements. Once sentences are met, it could be offered at that time. Hiring a good attorney could help you to know and understand this process completely. That attorney could help you to petition the necessary court according to that jurisdiction.

When considering a future with a record, consider not having that record. People make mistakes. Not every mistake has to label a person for his or her entire future. Expungement is a viable option to have a record completely disappear. Having a knowledgeable attorney who knows the process may help to clear a path to a more successful life. Be sure to research your options and gather all of the necessary information. Expunging a record is not impossible, and could clean up a past.

Things to Know About Civil Asset Forfeiture

In Civil asset forfeiture, assets from individuals suspected to have engaged in criminal activities. The nature of the crime that may warrant confiscation varies with states but most commonly, assets from drug dealers, terrorists and their sympathizers, corrupt individuals either in government or out of government and even civil criminals. The aim of the controversial legal process is to allow the law enforcement agencies to use the proceeds from such seized to further battle with the criminal activities. Civil asset forfeiture suit is a dispute between the law enforcement institutions against the asset owner as opposed to the criminal procedure that involves two citizens. To get back the confiscated assets, the owner must prove that they are clean and that their assets were not involved in any criminal activity.

 

What necessitates asset forfeiture?

There has been an increase in the siphoning of public resources by corrupt government officials and other institutions that are out to steal public money. The stolen money is usually transferred to other countries leaving the affected countries in economic crisis. This is more common in developing countries. In other developed countries like the U.S, embezzlement of public funds is not as rampant as in the developing countries. However, they are battling organized crimes such as drug barons and the terrorist who are out to cause havoc to innocent civilians. The ill-gotten resources are used by these gangs to finance their activities across the globe hence the need for civil asset forfeiture. Freezing and recovery of these assets has been seen as the only lethal tool to fight their existence since they can survive without them.

 

What happens in civil asset forfeiture?

In Civil Asset Forfeiture, the assets of the suspected individuals should be frozen until the courts exonerate the suspect. This usually happens when they finish their appeals in most states; the law requires that financial institutions automatically freeze any bank transactions of the affected bank account for a certain period. Police are also allowed to confiscate physically the assets and keep them in their custody until such cases are determined. In the U.S, the legal process is more severe as the suspects can be convicted for several major and minor offenses that range from prostitution, tax evasion, corruption, and narcotic charges.

 

Relationship between Civil Asset Forfeiture and bail bonds

In most cases, victims of civil asset forfeiture go scot free without any charges in a court of law. This is because the legal process allows the only confiscation of the suspected assets. However, if one finds themselves in a court, then they can apply for bail bonds that give them the temporary freedom until the case is determined. Bail bond companies come in to pay the bail on behalf of the client so as to secure their release.

 

Controversies

A lot of controversies have surrounded Civil Asset Forfeiture. While most proponents of the system praise it for wiping out criminal activities, its critics think otherwise. The system presumes an individual guilty rather than innocent. The confiscated property usually finds it way in the auction centers where it sold at throw away prices. And again, most of the times the value of the taken property is usually smaller than the cost of the court process.

What is a Bail Bond Forfeiture?

A defendant’s bail is determined according to preexisting bail schedules or by the magistrate before arraignment. The defendant or his agent contacts a bail agent and the bail bond firm makes necessary arrangements to post required bail. At that point, the defendant is temporarily released from jail. To compensate for risk that the defendant may not appear at the agreed upon dates and times in court, the bail firm charges a premium of approximately ten percent.

Bail Bond Forfeiture Hearing

When the defendant misses a court date, the presiding judge typically orders a bail bond forfeiture hearing. At the hearing, the judge hears whether the defendant has reasonable cause for not appearing in court.

If the judge decides the defendant does not have just cause, then he or she usually issues an arrest warrant. The order is likely to include instructions about the defendant’s return by a certain date. When the defendant is not brought back to the jurisdiction by that time, or the defendant remains at large, the court proceeds with bail bond forfeiture.

Additional Charges Against the Defendant

Arranging bail is usually considered a straightforward matter. When the defendant goes missing, the bail bond forfeiture may serve to complicate procedures. The defendant may be accused of additional civil and/or criminal charges as a result.

Bail Bond Surety Issues

Like other insurers regulated in those states, the bail bond firm may place the surety firm underwriter in regulatory jeopardy. If a significant bail bond forfeiture occurs, the surety firm may forbid the bail bond agent to operate as its agent. This may place the livelihood of the bail bondsman in jeopardy.

Loss of Collateral

If an alleged criminal put up collateral to secure a bail bond, then the bond company may be able to sell the property to raise cash. The bail bondsman must pay the court in cash after a bail bond forfeiture is ordered. If the defendant’s co-signors provided collateral to secure the bail bond, they are likely to forfeit them. In some cases, bail bond forfeiture can mean the loss of major assets like a house or car. The bail bondsman may also recover costs related to locating the whereabouts of the defendant by liquidating collateral.

Bail Bond Forfeiture Judgments

Bail bond forfeiture procedure varies according to the jurisdiction. Many courts allow sufficient time for the bail agent to apprehend and bring the accused to trial before the judgment is paid. In some cases, the court may put bail bond forfeiture judgments aside if the defendant’s failure to appear in court occurred for a good reason.

Bond Capital at Risk

More than two million defendants are temporarily granted freedom from jail each year because Eighth Amendment rights. Bail bond arranged by bond firms is placed at risk in order to make pretrial release possible for accused people.

All About Posting Bail in Court

Although it will not be the case for all people, there will come a time when unfortunate individuals will need bail to be posted for them. The posting of bail can prove to be a relieving experience for those with the threat of incarceration overhead. Having a clear understanding of what posting bail in court means and how to actually post bail are two things that can come in handy when having to deal with judicial issues.

What It All Means

At the most basic level, bail is the money that is used to get a person out of prison. When a person is accused of a crime, there will be a court hearing (often multiple hearings) that will be scheduled for a future date. During that time, the accused would normally have to sit in a jail cell. If bail is posted, the accused will have to come back for all court hearings, however, they will not have to sit in a cell until those dates roll around.

The amount that bail costs can vary greatly. Whether bail is set at a high monetary amount or a lower amount will all depend on a few factors such as how serious the crime committed was, the existing criminal record of the accused, and the accused’s current financial situation.

Whatever the amount is, the court will expect the entire amount to be paid to ensure that the accused will actually come back for scheduled hearing dates. Bail is basically a promise that the accused will return, as normally, bail money will be given back after the future trial dates.

How To Go About Posting Bail

Before bail can actually be posted through court, one has to be sure that they have the money to in fact post the proposed amount. If insufficient funds are an issue, then the accused can use a bail agent.

Bail agents will work somewhat like an insurance agency to the accused, in the sense that the accused will only pay a fraction of what the actual bail costs. At the end of the trial or trials, the bail agent (or bondsman) will get the remaining bail money, and not the accused.

If the accused is actually paying the bail themselves (without the help of a bondsman), then they can go about it a number of ways. The full monetary value that is set as bail can be paid in cash, the accused can sign over ownership of property that has a value equal to or greater than the bail amount, or the accused can sign a document that states they will show up to the set trial dates. The latter option is known as “being released on your own recognizance”.

Utilize What Is Available

By far, the path of least resistance would be to be released by your own recognizance. If that is an option, it is stated that it is a wise move to go that route, as there is not any money or signing over of property involved. Usually only people with a criminal record in good standing are eligible for that option.

Regardless of the way bail is posted, so long as it is indeed posted, that will ensure that the accused will not have to sit in a jail cell, awaiting trial.

Crazy Texan Laws You Never Imagined Existed

We Texans are a particular breed of people. There really is no one in the world quite like us. For us, meat, guns and football are sacred. We do often times also get carried away though. The following list is a set of laws that although a little far fetched, show what it means to live in Texas. If you’re Texan you know what I mean.

1. You can’t shoot a buffalo from the second story of a hotel.

This law raises many questions. Could you hypothetically go to the third floor and shoot a buffalo? Of course, as crazy as this law sounds, there is a reason for it. In case you haven’t noticed there aren’t many buffaloes around so probably the reason behind this law is to protect these emblematic creatures that once roamed this great land freely. Either way, it does seem odd anyone would want to shoot a buffalo from anywhere much less a second floor hotel room.

2. It is illegal for kids to have unusual haircuts

This law will be welcomed by a lot of youngsters who hate that their parents meddle with their precious hair. It may seem strange and subjective. After all, what exactly counts as a bad haircut? Nonetheless, this law may actually help prevent a lot of bullying.

3. Don’t milk another man’s cow

This law expressly states that “whoever without consent of the owner shall take up, use or milk any cow, not his own, shall be fined not exceeding ten dollars.” Aside from the
the obvious affront to your fellow man, it helps protect his dairy products. It seems that this law has been removed but it’s always good manners not to do it.

4. The Train Law

This law simply states that in Texas, when two trains meet each other at a railroad crossing, each one must come to a full stop, and neither one shall proceed until the other has gone. Although this law may seem nonsensical, there is a rational explanation for it. It seems that a senator was more than adamant about not wanting a law to be passed. His strategy was to attach this ridiculous law to keep the other law from passing. Things sort of backfired because either no one saw the train law attached or they simply chose to ignore it. Whether this is true or not it would partly explain why we have so many crazy laws.

5. Anticrime Law

An anticrime law in Texas requires criminals to give their victims 24 hours notice, orally or in writing, and to explain the nature of the crime to be committed. It is not clear why this law was enacted but considering Texan’s passion for guns we can only guess the criminal would not be met with open arms when trying to commit the crime. As the old adage says, crime does not pay.

Some of these laws may seem quirky and in some cases right down ridiculous but behind them lies the essence of Texas as a quiet and simple republic with good, simple and hard-working people.

What You Need To Understand About Bail Bond Forfeiture

Bail bonds are agreements that allow a defendant to wait outside of jail for upcoming court hearings on the condition a certain amount of money is paid to officials. That money is returned later if all court dates are made by the defendant. If something goes wrong, then a forfeiture might occur. You should understand the details of bail bond forfeiture.

What Forfeiture Is

Bail bond forfeiture occurs when a person who was released on bail does not show up for a scheduled court appearance. The court will inform the defendant and people who paid the bail about the impending forfeiture. A period of a few days to a month will pass depending on the jurisdiction. If the defendant does not report to the court in this time, then the forfeiture will go through. This means any money put up for the bond will be taken by the court and not usually returned. If a bail bond agency acted as surety and charged just a percentage, then the full amount will be due to the agency upon forfeiture. This can sometimes lead to seizing the assets of the client or lawsuits.

Preventing Forfeiture

Preventing forfeiture relies on ensuring that the defendant goes to every scheduled court date until the trial is over and the money is returned. If you are the defendant, then simply showing up on time for all court appearances will prevent any forfeiture. If you are not the defendant, then there are a few options:

  • Constant Supervision or Monitoring
  • The first option is to provide constant supervision of the defendant. This usually means keeping the person in or near the home as much as possible if there is any risk of flight. Alternately, you can sometimes request electronic monitoring from local police although there is a daily charge for that service. If you paid for the bond and think the defendant will flee, then you can contact law enforcement and have the person placed back in jail.

  • Provide a Valid Excuse for Non-Appearance
  • If the defendant does not show up and forfeiture notices are issued, then you have a chance to present an excuse to the judge for the non-appearance. Only a few excuses will make much of a difference. The defendant needs to be incapacitated in some way, confined for a valid reason or seriously ill with proof. The location of the defendant needs to be known to stop forfeiture.

  • Find the Defendant
  • If the defendant actually skipped bail, then preventing forfeiture will involve finding that person. Some states allow for skip tracers or bounty hunters to do this while others do not. You could have a few days or weeks to find the defendant before the forfeiture is finalized. Returning the defendant to court or law enforcement will solve the problem.

What to Do After a Forfeiture

Not much that can be done after a forfeiture is finalized by the courts. If you are working through a bail bond agency, you might be able to request a payment plan. Some courts will also institute a payment plan if you did not have to pay the full amount upfront. A legal option is to get a lawyer and file for a remission of forfeiture. You do this in the same court where the forfeiture was ordered. Remission of forfeiture allows you to present your case for why the money from the bond should be return in full or in part. You can potentially get all your money back. The only other thing to do is continue looking for the defendant in the hopes the court will vacate the forfeiture if the individual is returned quickly.

Inmate Rights and Privileges

The Supreme Court upheld in 1974’s Wolff v. McDonnel that the Constitutional rights of inmates are severely restricted. However, not all Constitutional rights are surrendered, and the law also provides inmates with rights concerning their health and welfare while incarcerated.

In addition to the rights they are afforded, prisoners may be granted certain privileges based on behavior, criminal history, and other factors. An important distinction exists between rights and privileges: rights are guaranteed by law while privileges can be granted to individual inmates as long as discipline and security are maintained. Privileges can be revoked by prison or jail staff, but rights cannot be.

Prisoner Rights

Discipline and security are principle concerns in jails and prisons in the United States. As such, some rights granted to free citizens are limited or denied to prisoners. Freedom of speech is usually limited, as are the rights to counsel and to not accuse oneself when infractions and crimes committed in the prison or jail are being investigated.

However, other rights are still guaranteed. As long as there are no security concerns, inmates are free to practice their religion. Prisoners maintain their right to bail and equal protection.

Rights granted to prisoners also include rights that are specific to incarceration. They are guaranteed separation based on age, sex, and criminal classification. Clothing must be provided for felons. Prisons and jails must make a reasonable effort to protect inmates from violence and provide them access to a legal education. Some form of recreation must be provided, and prisoners must have access to necessary and reasonable medical attention.

Prisoner Privileges

Rights are guaranteed to all prisoners, but access to many prison privileges is based on behavior. Inmates with a history of infractions may be confined to their cells for longer periods of time during the day, or they may be forced to wear prison uniforms while other inmates can wear their own clothes.

Other common privileges include access to entertainment, work, and money.

Many prisons have televisions in common areas, but some inmates may have one in their cells to pass the time. Depending on the status of their imprisonment, they may also be allowed to work.

Generally, prisoners cannot choose their assignments or refuse an assignment, and the wages they earn for work are well below the minimum wage. Most work occurs in the prison or jail, though some inmates may be granted work release, which allows them to do work such as trash collection outside the facility.

Another common privilege is access to personal money that can be used to purchase items from prison commissaries such as cigarettes. Markups on commissary items are usually significant, and this privilege is often one of the first to be revoked for behavior infractions.

Not all prisoners may be granted the same privileges, or they may be granted a limited privilege. Behavior is often the deciding factor in which prisoners have which privileges, and criminal history and prison security concerns can be factors as well. Unlike privileges, all prisoners are guaranteed the same rights for the term of their incarceration.

Decriminalizing Truancy

In the state of Texas, current truancy laws address habitual absenteeism by demanding court appearances, levying fines, and even arresting students over the age of 17 who can’t pay. While harsh, and virtually unavoidable for students with ten or more unexcused absence, these policies have had no effect on truancy rates and appear to unfairly target minorities and the poor. Dealing with truancy through standardized punitive measures makes it impossible for judges and school officials to address the actual issues behind truancy and work with students and families to get kids back in school. Instead, it labels kids as delinquents and punishes them by placing economic strains on them and their families.

Current Truancy Laws in Texas

Truancy laws in Texas operate around three rules. Compulsory school attendance requires children between the ages of 6 and 18 to attend school. Failure to attend is defined as ten or more unexcused absences within a six month period, or three consecutive days within a four week period. Parents are charged as criminally negligent if their kids don’t meet these requirements after a warning letter is issued. If punitive measures are taken, in addition to a 500 dollar fine, both parents and the student in question may be compelled to participate in a variety of programs and classes, and complete community service requirements. If Texas’ attendance requirements aren’t met, school districts are compelled to refer students and parents to court. Teachers and faculty are often unable to make an effort to resolve truancy problems informally.

Decriminalization Debate

In virtually every subject of criminological debate, the certainty of punishment does not effectively deter individuals of any age from breaking society’s laws, especially developing teenagers. Because of the immediacy of formal court involvement and the standardized punishments and negative stigma that comes with it, a large number of truants are charged without any of their specific problems being addressed. While it is generally agreed upon that some action must be taken, supporters of decriminalization argue that less formal measures will benefit students and families more. Students who are truant because they need jobs to support their families are treated the same way that students who join gangs or use drugs are. In a system in which no socioeconomic factors are considered, everyone is a criminal by default and treated inappropriately. Statistics show that the current system disproportionately affects hispanics and blacks as a result.

Possible Decriminalization Effects

Decriminalization bills have the support of Texas lawmakers, including Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht. Advocacy groups believe that treating truancy as a sociological problem rather than a criminal offense argue that a less uniform process will allow for better understanding for disadvantaged youths and give the system a chance to actually resolve issues keeping them out of school. Rather than punish families that are unable to fully support their children and monitor their activities, new policies could install counseling and support systems that address those student’s needs. Decriminalization advocates believe that better individual oversight will reduce recidivism rates and lower the number of truancy cases every year.