Bail Bonds: Why won’t they give him a Bond?

You get the call that he has been arrested. With your heart pounding, you grab your car keys and wallet and race to the jail, only to be told he cannot be bonded out because he is on a “no bond” status.  How does that happen? Doesn’t everyone have a right to a bond? The answer is, kind of. There are times when no bond means until he sees a judge. There are also times when no bond means no bond at all. Reasons for no bond include:

Letting the judge decide: Most jails have a list of standard bonds that are used for different crimes. When someone is arrested, they are brought to jail, go through the booking process and then one of those standard bond amounts are applied. In some cases, the jail chooses to let a judge decide on a bond amount. This is typically related to a case with multiple charges, both felony and misdemeanor mixed together; or someone was already on bond when they were brought in on new charges; or the charge is particularly violent, such as murder or rape. In such cases, the defendant will see the judge, usually within 24-48 hours to determine the bond amount.

Probation violation: Different counties have different rules about probation violations. Some counties do not set a bond for someone who is on felony probation getting arrested. The charge itself will have a bond amount, but right next to it will be a notation that the probation violation for picking up a charge has no bond. So you could feasibly pay the $1,500 bond for shoplifting only to be told he still cannot leave due to the shoplifting charge, violating his felony probation. Other counties do set bonds for probation violations.

Flight risk: When a person is believed to be a significant flight risk, jail personnel will usually pass that responsibility to a judge to decide. The defendant is held without bond until the judge can see him, typically within 24-48 hours. The reason for this is that the judge has the authority that the jail doesn’t have, to impose additional bond conditions such as giving up a passport, freezing assets, etc., before releasing the defendant.

Very violent crime – Even those convicted of murder are given bonds. It is a rare instance that the level of crime causes a no-bond hold, but it does happen. Usually, this occurs when it is a particularly heinous accusation that would deem society unsafe, if he in fact was guilty of the crime. Murdering children and serial killer accusations are examples.

On bond already – If he is already out on bond and the bonding company chooses not to bond him out again, his prior bond is revoked and he will be held without bond unless you can get another company to bond him for both the prior charge and this new one.

Final thoughts: The good news is, with the rare exception of a homeland security issue, your loved will see a bond judge within a matter of days and will be given a bond amount or told why he cannot have one. In some cases, a criminal defense attorney can change the judge’s mind and get a bond either set or reduced.

Behind the Bail Bond System NPR

Posting Bail and Skipping Court



About Mark Miclette 682 Articles
writes about inmates, jails, prisons, courts and the lives of people who live and work within the United States Criminal Justice System. His mission can be summed up in a single word; transparency.