Arraignment and Bail (Setting Bail)
The court through a judge or clerk-magistrate will set "bail" for a criminal defendant after the individual has been arrested and charged with a criminal offense.
The "bail" will reflect an amount of money that will insure a criminal defendant will appear in court for all related proceedings. It is based on a series of factors including:
- The nature and circumstances of the offense;
- The defendant’s family ties to the community;
- The defendant’s financial resources;
- The defendant’s length of residence in the community;
- The defendant’s character and mental condition;
- The defendant’s criminal history; and
- The defendant’s previous record of appearing in Court as required.
Posting of bail is done in the Courthouse during regular business hours. The Criminal Clerk’s Office accepts cash bail during working hours and does not impose the standard $40.00 fee. Bail may be posted at the jail where the defendant is held. Generally a jail will only permit bail to be posted at particular hours and there is a fee ($40.00) payable to the official who receives the bail on behalf of the court.
Bail can also generally be paid by purchasing a bond from a bonding company or by posting or pledging real estate of a value 10 times greater than the cash value of the bail.
Bail may be returned to the defendant and/or surety when a case has been disposed. In order to have the bail refunded the defendant or the surety must bring to the Criminal Clerk’s Office the receipt and a picture identification. The bail is returned to the individual who signed for the bail. If the receipt has been lost or misplaced the defendant or surety must retain a notarized letter from a Notary Public, stating that the receipt has been lost or misplaced.
Bail is forfeited by the Court and turned over to the State Treasurer when the defendant fails to appear in court on any date prior to the conclusion of the case.
An arraignment is the first stage of a criminal proceeding during which an individual is charged with committing a criminal offense. The defendant enters a plea of "Not Guilty" or a plea of "Not Guilty" is entered on his behalf.