The Bail and Bond Process in Indiana
Bail and bond are fundamental aspects of the criminal justice system, designed to ensure that a defendant appears in court for their trial while allowing them to remain free until the court date. However, navigating the bail and bond process in Indiana can be a daunting experience, especially for first time offenders. Given this, it’s important that everyone understands the basics of the bail and bond process in Indiana, as these items are crucial to protecting your rights and allowing you to make more informed decisions in otherwise distressing circumstances.
If you have been arrested in Indiana and face criminal charges, the first thing you should do is find an Indiana criminal defense attorney to represent you. The longer you wait to do so, the higher the stakes will get. To secure the best outcome in your criminal case, and to minimize the potential consequences, you’ll need to hire a skilled, aggressive criminal defense attorney in Indiana.
The defense attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP have extensive experience guiding and representing Hoosiers throughout the criminal justice process. Our firm is led by two former deputy prosecutors who have handled criminal cases from both sides of the court. This means they can anticipate how the prosecution will proceed with the case, and what is required to best protect your rights and freedoms.
The Basics of Bail and Bond
Before diving into the bail and bond process in Indiana, it’s best to first understand the definitions of bail and bond, the differences between the two, and the various types of bonds available to criminal defendants.
In general, bail is the amount of money set by the court, which acts as a financial guarantee that the defendant will appear for all scheduled court appearances. If the defendant cannot afford the full bail amount, they can contact a bail bondsman to secure a bond. In these situations, the bondsman will post bail on behalf of the defendant for a fee (usually about 10% of the bail amount). However, if the defendant fails to appear in court, bondsman will have to forfeit the full bail amount to the court.
When working with a bondsman, a defendant may be offered a surety or property bond. Surety bonds are the most common type of bond in Indiana, and simply involve the bondsman assuring the court that they will pay the full bail amount if the accused fails to appear in court. Property bonds, on the other hand, place a lien on the defendant’s property to secure the bail amount.
Overview of the Bail and Bond Process in Indiana
The bail and bond process in Indiana begins after a defendant is arrested and booked. At the defendant’s initial hearing in Indiana, the judge will set the bail amount, considering factors such as the severity of the alleged crime, the defendant’s criminal history, ties to the community, and the risk of flight; unless bail is already set for the offense pursuant to a county bond schedule. After the bail has been determined, the defendant will then attempt to post bail and, if successful, be released from custody. While this may all seem straightforward, each step in the process comes with its own set of regulations and nuances. Therefore, it’s best to review the process step by step.
Step 1: Determining Bail
Bail schedules generally fluctuate county to county in Indiana. However, as provided in Indiana Code 35-33-8-4(b), the amount of bail “not be set higher than that amount reasonably required to assure the defendant’s appearance in court or to assure the physical safety of another person or the community if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant poses a risk to the physical safety of another person or the community.”
In addition, when determining bail, Indiana law requires the judicial officer to consider the following factors:
- The length of the defendant’s residence in the community
- The character of the defendant’s residence in the community
- The defendant’s employment history
- The defendant’s income
- The defendant’s ability to make bail
- The defendant’s family ties and relationships
- The defendant’s character, reputation, habits, and mental condition
- The defendant’s criminal or juvenile record
- The defendant’s previous record in not responding to court appearances
- The nature and gravity of the offense and the potential penalty faced
- The source of funds or property to be used to post bail
- The defendant’s citizenship status
- Any other factors which may indicate that the defendant may not recognize and adhere to the authority of the court to bring them to trial
In the end, if the amount set for bail is too high and the defendant does not have the funds to meet it, they can petition the court to reduce the amount. As provided in Indiana Code 35-33-8-5, to successfully have the amount set for bail reduced, the defendant must “present additional evidence of substantial mitigating factors” (based on the factors listed above) which suggests that they recognize the courts authority to bring them to trial.
Step 2: Posting Bail
To post bail in Indiana, the defendant or a representative must complete several steps. If opting for a cash bail, the full amount must be paid to the court or jail. In the case of a surety bond, a bail bond agent will post bail in exchange for a non-refundable premium, typically 10% (but sometimes 8%) of the bail amount. Finally, if the defendant uses their property as collateral to secure bail, they must demonstrate enough equity in the property and obtain court approval.
Defendants who choose to engage a bail bond agent actually enter into a legal agreement with the agent. This agreement stipulates that they appear for all court dates or risk financial and legal repercussions. Therefore, it’s vital that all defendants considering this route fully understand the agreement, and ideally, have a criminal defense attorney review the agreement before signing it.
The manner in which the bail or bond transaction is completed will vary depending on the type of bail or bond used to secure the defendant’s release. For cash bail, a friend, family member, or criminal defense attorney may go to the jail where the defendant is held (or the appropriate court office) and pay the full amount. For bail bonds, the defendant or a representative of the defendant will contact a licensed bail bondsman in Indiana. They will explain their terms, gather the information they need, and then collect the required fee or collateral from the defendant. From there they will handle posting the bail to the jail or court. Property bonds are the most complex type of bond to secure and often require expert legal assistance from an experienced attorney. However, they are commonly utilized in Indiana.
Step 3: Release on Bail
Once bail is posted, the defendant is released from custody. However, they must agree to certain conditions set by the court. In Indiana, as in other states, when bail is granted, it comes with specific conditions that the defendant must adhere to. These conditions are set by the judge and are designed to ensure the defendant’s appearance at all court dates and to protect the community. Each defendant’s conditions will vary, depending on the nature of the crime, the defendant’s history, and the judge’s discretion. However, some Common conditions of bail in Indiana include:
- Appearance in Court: The primary condition of bail is that the defendant must appear at all scheduled court dates. Failure to appear can result in the forfeiture of bail and a warrant being issued for their arrest.
- No Contact Orders: In cases involving violence, harassment, or domestic disputes, the court may impose a no-contact order in Indiana. This means the defendant must not contact the alleged victim or other parties involved in the case.
- Travel Restrictions: The defendant may be required to surrender their passport and/or stay within certain geographical boundaries, such as the county or state.
- Obeying All Laws: The defendant is typically required to not commit any crimes while on bail. Being charged with a new crime can result in revocation of bail and immediate return to custody.
- No Drug or Alcohol Use: For cases involving substance abuse, the court may order the defendant to abstain from alcohol and illegal drugs and may require regular testing.
- Curfew: In some cases, the court might impose a curfew, requiring the defendant to be at a certain place during specified hours.
- Employment: The defendant might be required to maintain or seek employment while on bail.
- Electronic Monitoring: For higher-risk cases, the court might require the defendant to wear an electronic monitoring device.
- Regular Check-Ins: The defendant might be required to check in regularly with a court official or a bail agent.
- Mental Health Treatment: In cases where mental health is a concern, attending treatment or counseling sessions might be a condition of bail.
- Restricted Association: The court may prohibit the defendant from associating with certain individuals, such as co-defendants or people involved in criminal activities.
- Firearm Restrictions: Defendants might be ordered not to possess firearms or other weapons.
- Other Specific Conditions: Depending on the case’s specifics, the judge may impose other unique conditions deemed necessary and appropriate.
It’s important for all criminal defendants to understand that failure to comply with any of the conditions imposed by the court can lead to the revocation of bail and the defendant being taken back into custody. Therefore, it’s crucial that defendants and their families seek the advice and expertise of legal counsel to fully understand the conditions and how to comply with them throughout the criminal trial.
Step 4: Conclusion of the Case
At the case’s end, defendants who remained compliant with the bail conditions and appeared at all court dates will have their cash bail returned to them. However, if the defendant elected to use a bail bondsman, they will not be able to recover the premium they paid in the beginning, as that is considered a fee of service.
In situations where the defendant fails to appear in court, a warrant may be issued for their arrest. If the defendant used a bail bondsman, an agent of that service may try to locate and return them to the court.
If the defendant paid cash bail, that amount will be forfeited, or a grace period will be offered to the defendant. When this occurs, the defendant will have a certain amount of time to report to the court without the risk of forfeiting their bail money.
Questions about the Bail and Bond Process in Indiana?
If you’re facing criminal charges in Indiana and have questions or concerns about the bail and bond process in Indiana, do not hesitate to contact the Indianapolis attorneys of Keffer Hirschauer LLP. Our firm has helped hundreds of Hoosiers navigate the criminal justice process in Indiana, including handling the logistics of bail and bond. To begin working on your release and building a sound defense strategy, contact our firm today at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.