Category Archives: Bail Bonding Articles

How Bail Works In Oklahoma

The United States is one of the few countries that utilizes a bail bond system. Though the general process is similar in most states, there are some differences. Here is a brief guide to help you understand how bail works in Oklahoma.

After An Arrest

how bail works in OklahomaWhen you or a loved one gets arrested, you will be taken to the county jail for booking. You will be fingerprinted, have your mugshot taken, and asked for your personal information. You may be tested for alcohol or drugs if you were arrested for a DUI or DWI. At that point, based on your charges a preliminary bail will most likely be set for you. This is the price you must pay to get out of jail. However, the preliminary bail amount is subject to change at your hearing before a judge.

Bail Hearings

A bail hearing usually takes place within 48 hours of your arrest. If the jail is full, it may take longer. At your hearing, a judge will consider the misdemeanor or felony charges against you, your criminal history, danger to others, and your flight risk. Your flight risk is the likelihood of whether you will show up for your court date or flee.

Most states have a schedule or general set of guidelines for specific crimes and their corresponding bail amounts. However, these suggestions are subject to change based on each individual’s situation. Once the judge sets your final cash bail amount, you have a couple options. If you don’t pay bail, you will have to wait in jail until your court date. You can either pay the cash bail in full, or get help from a bail bondsman.

What does a Bail Bondsman do?

If you hire a bail bondsman, you do not have to pay the pull bail amount up front. Instead, you can pay a fraction of the total bail price and the bondsman will put up the remaining amount. This is usually about 10 percent. You will need to sign papers and may need to put up collateral such as a car title. Your bail bondsman will keep in touch with you about your court dates, which you must not miss. If you do, a warrant will be issued for your arrest and you may be subject to more fines.

If you need help paying bail in Oklahoma or have questions about how bail works in Oklahoma, call Thunder Bail Bonds at (405) 235-0002!

No Bail…?

When Can Courts Deny Bail?

If the suspect does not appear for the scheduled court date, then the bail is forfeited. It is common in some cases for the bail money to be returned at the end of the trial, if the suspect makes all scheduled court appearances. The money is returned regardless of whether or not the suspect is found innocent or guilty if collateral or a cash bond is posted.

bail denied

Is there any evidence of flight risk?

Why Would a Court Deny Bail?

Some of the common reasons for bail denial are: numerous penal code violations, prior escape from prison, or if the judge believes the suspect is a flight risk and will not appear in court. After being arrested a suspect will remain in jail, until a judge reviews the case and decides on whether or not bail will be allowed and at what amount. Usually, the more severe the alleged crime is, the higher the bail amount will be. If the judge believes the suspect is a threat to society or a flight risk, then it is very likely that bail will be denied.

The Severity of the Crime

One of the first things a judge will look at when determining bail, is the nature and extent of the crime. Oftentimes, crimes already have a preset range of bail amounts (known as the assumptive bail rate) for the judge to consider. If a suspect is accused of murder, then under normal circumstances bail is automatically denied.

A judge may also deny bail, if the judge believes the defendant is a flight risk. It is always a good idea for everyone accused of a crime to have an attorney. If bail is possible, a defendant is more likely to be granted bail with an attorney present, who understands the law and is familiar with historical bail precedence. If a Judge denies bail on grounds of flight risk, then it is because of a significant reason.

Obvious Red Flags

There are certain red flags that a judge can see to believe that a defendant will not appear in court, if bail is granted.

  • The court or judge is told by a credible source the defendant will not appear.
  • The defendant is cantankerous towards the court.
  • The defendant has a prior history of missing court dates.
  • The nature of the crime is severe.
  • The person is not a U.S. citizen and may simply flee back to their homeland.
  • The defendant is an unsupervised person with mental impairment.

Unless the severity of the crime dictates that bail is not an option, the best thing to do to ensure that bail is granted is to assure the court, the judge, your attorney, and the prosecuting attorney that you have every desire and intent to return to court to stand trial on the appointed date.

See also: Denying Bail for a Dangerous Defendant

Federal vs State Bail Bond Statutes

Federal bail bond statutes

Bail bond statutes will vary between state and federal courts. When suspects will be tried in federal court, federal statutes govern the bail bond process. Federal bail bond statues now allow courts to retain individuals who are considered dangerous before trial to protect the public. They also govern which individuals can be retained without bail, including:

  • those charged with an offense accompanied by a maximum sentence of life in prison or the death penalty
  • those charged with drug offenses carrying a maximum penalty of more than ten years in prison
  • those charged with a felony offense who have been previously convicted of a felony
  • those who pose a serious risk of failure to return/flight
  • those who pose a serious risk of obstruction of justice
  • those who pose a serious risk of witness tampering
  • those charged with a violent crime

State bail bond statutes

The state clearly and carefully governs those practicing bail bonds and ensures they conduct business ethically and according to stringent licensing and ethical guidelines. Furthermore, just as federal statutes address the federal bail bond process.

In the state of Oklahoma, those charged with a capital felony or a felony committed while on probation and those who pose a danger to others if released can be held without bail. Furthermore, statutes prohibit bail for those arrested for failure to appear. This is different than federal guidelines in that those who are charged with a violent crime may still post bail if there is no reason to believe they are a danger to the public or any specific person or group.

Oklahoma bail statutes also allow a surety (or a bondsman) to arrest and produce to court an individual who failed to appear. In this case, the agent is required to identify himself or herself appropriately and follow all law governing arrest by surety. In order to become a “bail recovery agent” with the power to arrest additional guidelines must be met.

Discount bail bonds – save money?

Be leery of discount bail bonds companies? How could saving money on a bail bond in Oklahoma be a bad thing?  As you will find out you’re probably not saving any money at all and you or a loved one may end up being returned to jail by one of these companies costing you even more hard earned cash.

discount bail bondsFor those unfamiliar with the bail bonds process, if someone is taken into custody (taken to jail) and given the option to post bail, they can hire a bail bondsman as opposed to paying the full bail amount.  The normal rate charged for this service by bail bondsmen is 10% of the bail amount, i.e. if the bail is $5,000 a bondsman would normally charge $500.  A number of variables may affect the fee charged by the bondsman and in Oklahoma there are no laws that specify the amount a bondsman may charge or advertise to charge.

Why “discount bail bonds”

The bail industry in Oklahoma is flooded with bail bondsmen and bail bonds companies with approximately 80-100 new bondsmen added each year.  The large amount of bondsmen trying to earn enough money to get by creates a very competitive market and many companies are forced to advertise “discount bail bonds”, “5% bail bonds” or even lower.

The problem with “just getting by” and desperation in the bail bond business model is that you need more than enough to just get by in order to remain in business, a company actually needs to turn a profit in order to keep the doors open.  Profit is a necessity in the bail industry for two reasons.  First, the competitiveness in the bail industry means massive advertising strategies and budgets.  Second, people out on bail do flee and bondsmen do have to pay that full bond amount when the forfeiture (when a court date is missed a bond is forfeited) comes due.  Companies that pay all their money in forfeitures may be forced to close their doors because they are no longer able to pay their bills and in the case of non-payment of forfeitures, the Oklahoma Insurance Department (OID) which regulates bail bondsmen may actually suspend the bail bonds licenses of the bondsmen working for a company effectively shutting down the business which means back to jail for the people that were out on bond with that company.

Back to jail?

That’s right you could go to jail for no reason at all other than you bonded out with a bad bondsman/bail bonds company which is one of the many reasons it’s important to choose a reputable company.

In Oklahoma bail bondsmen are backed by either professional bondsmen (someone who deposits money with OID and has agents that post bonds under them) or insurance companies that follow the same model.  In many cases when these bondsmen or bonds companies they’ve created go under the professional bondsmen or insurance companies hire bail enforcers (bounty hunters) to clean up the mess of the agents they had appointed.  Unfortunately this isn’t the only way to be thrown in jail by these companies.

Don’t be fooled!

It is important to not be fooled that the 5% is the only fee you will be paying, that’s just to get started.  The other 5% will be due within a certain amount time sometimes only a week or even a few days is given.  Further the other 5% may not be all one of these companies wants, they may ask for interest on the payments or a larger percentage of the bond to be paid because they are willing to work out a payment plan. BE SURE TO READ THE FINE PRINT OF THE CONTRACT YOU SIGN AND MOST IMPORTANTLY PAY ATTENTION TO THE PART THAT SAYS IF YOU DO NOT PAY ON TIME YOU GO BACK TO JAIL.  Again, you may pay the 5% to get out and if you do not get the rest of the money paid on time then you may be having a visitor from the bondsman or one of their bounty hunters to take you back to jail and then you’re back to square one and that 5% you paid up front only got you out for a few days.too good to be true discount bail bonds?

Is working out a payment plan always necessarily a bad thing with a bail bonds company?  No, it’s something that almost every bonds company does but basing your business model on it and doing it occasionally when the circumstances call for it are two completely separate things.  That’s why it is important to do your research when choosing a bail bonds company and go with one that is reputable and well reviewed so you do not find yourself in a losing situation.  The old saying “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” is definitely something that can be used to describe these types of companies, do yourself a favor and just stay away from “discount bail bonds.”

Conditions of Bail

If you have been charged with a crime and the judge let you post bond, your freedom is something you want to make certain you don’t lose. The judge could have said that you must stay in jail until your case was heard, which can sometimes take months or even over a year depending on the seriousness of the charge. It is important to make sure that you follow the rules while out on bail; this will help your case and keep you free. The consequences of getting into trouble while out on bail are very serious.

bail-conditions

Lots of reasons to be on your Best Behavior!

Consequences

If you get into trouble while you are out on bail, the judge or bondsman may revoke your bail bond. This means that you may have to spend the remaining time in jail, while you wait for your trial or the next court hearing. Rather than being able to spend time with friends, family and romantic partners, now you will have to be behind bars and have every movement monitored and controlled by the jail and its agents.

Even if the judge or bondsman does not revoke your bond, you may still face other consequences. The judge or jury will know about the bail bond being revoked and this may influence their opinion of you regarding your current charges. This could mean that you could get convicted of a crime that you didn’t even commit because you made a bad impression on the jury. Not to mention the criminal record this kind of action will establish; if there is a next time, the fact that you did not abide by your bail conditions may prevent you getting bail in the future, or at least raise the bail face amount.

Avoid Doing This

Avoid falling out of contact with your bondsman. Any reputable bondsman will want to speak with you on a weekly or even daily basis depending on the situation, don’t miss a call or you may find yourself back in jail.

Avoid all criminal activity and stay on the straight and narrow while you are out on bail, there are particular types of activities that you should definitely avoid.

  1. First, don’t go back and perform any type of criminal behavior for which the charges are currently pending. For example, if you are being charged with possession of a controlled substance, and you get caught being in possession while you are out on bail, it will be hard for the jury to believe you weren’t guilty of the first charge.
  2. You should also avoid any violent crimes while you are out on bail. Additionally, you should avoid any association with felons, steer clear of weapons or anyone who owns or carries one.
  3. Closely follow your stipulated bail conditions, which may include abstaining from alcohol – and if someone throws a beer can in your trash barrel and an officer of the court drops by, you could be handcuffed and on your way back to jail ASAP.

Leaving the Area

Sometimes the judge or bail bondsman will order that you stay within a designated area while your charges are pending. Do not get caught crossing that line or the bondsman/judge may revoke your bail, thinking that you are trying to leave and not take responsibility for your crimes, if you committed them or not. Perceiving you as a flight risk is one big reason why a judge or bail bondsman may deny you bail in the future.

Tips for Staying Out of Trouble

It is important to be on your best behavior and to get through your time before court appearances without getting into any more trouble. Here are a few steps that you can take:

  1. Avoid hanging out with certain friends or family members that may influence you to do wrong.
  2. Avoid drugs or alcohol that may impair your judgment.
  3. Try to work or attend school during the time that you are waiting for court. This will make you look better for the judge and jury and will help fill some of your free time.
  4. Avoid hanging out with people that anger you and may cause you to get into altercations.

Pretrial Release VS Bail Bonds Release

Pretrial release is when a defendant is released on their own recognizance to return to their future court appearances as opposed to posting a bail bond. Pre-trial release might sound good in theory, but when accountability is placed only on the defendant and no monitoring is involved, the chances of that defendant returning for their court appearance goes down greatly. Pretrial release is normally a local government entity that releases criminal defendants from jail, at no cost to the defendant. Local tax dollars fund Pre-Trial Release programs.

The average program has a budget in excess of $1 million. It was first used for less-serious crimes when a defendant couldn’t afford bail. Now it is used in violent cases even if the defendant can afford bail. The Pretrial Release “program” is supposed to make sure the defendants show up in court. Many do not and are still fugitives after one year. When a defendant does not appear, no one is held financially responsible. If the defendant fails to appear it is up to local law enforcement to locate them and bring them back to court at the local taxpayer’s expense.

Bail on the other hand provides a set amount of money that has to be paid by the bondsman if the defendant fails to appear in court. In general, a person can pay a bondsman a portion of the bail amount in order to secure release for the defendant with the promise to pay the full amount if the defendant fails to appear in court. If bail bonds companies have more than 5 percent of their clients fail to appear in court then they will go out of business! The potential of paying the full bond amount to the court by either the bail bondsman or the cosigners on the bail bond puts pressure on everyone involved to get the defendant to be sure to show up in court.

It is simple really the financial obligation imposed by the cash bail system makes people go to court.

See also the video about the pitfalls of pre-trial release.

How to Choose a Good Oklahoma Bail Bondsman Company

Aside from choosing an attorney, deciding which Oklahoma bail bondsman company to use is one of the most important decisions a criminal defendant or the friends/family members of the defendant can make. The level of service provided by various bail bondsmen can be quite different even though the rates across the board are fairly standard. With so many bail bond options available, it is imperative that someone understand their options before making a decision. Every person’s situation is unique and it is important to select the best bail bondsman for your needs.

accredited oklahoma bail bondsmanThough the process of looking for and choosing an Oklahoma bail bondsman often takes place during a busy and stressful time, you should still do as much research as you possibly can. Make sure that they are right for you and your situation. You will want to look for a bondsman or bail bonds company who is part of a company that is backed by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) if possible, and should have an online presence with a track record of their interactions with customers. The best place to find reviews are on the bail bo nds company’s social media sites such as Google Plus, Facebook, Yelp etc. Here you will be able to get an idea of how that particular bail bonds company operates.

Experience is a critical factor in how well a bail bondsman executes their job. Only by experience posting bail bonds in the Oklahoma jails and courts can a bail bondsman learn the important processes and time saving techniques to speed up a defendant’s release. Developing an understanding of each facility’s protocol is essential to offering quality service. A good Oklahoma bail bond agent will be able to answer your questions about the entire process, from the bail hearing to how payment will be made.

They should also be able to provide you with documentation that proves their ability to work legally in your jurisdiction. Most surety companies are licensed by the state in which they work, so always ask for their licensing information before you negotiate for the use of their services. In Oklahoma, bail bondsmen are licensed through the Oklahoma Insurance Department (OID).

Flexibility is an important part of any bail bonds service. When your loved one is in jail, you want to know how quickly they can be released. A competent Oklahoma bail bondsman will be able to work with the courts and jails 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so that a release can be secured as soon as possible. This is where local knowledge and a long local history can be so important. If the bondsman is on good terms with the local jail and sheriffs, they can negotiate a quick release as well as favorable terms. Oklahoma County jail is one of a few jails found in Oklahoma that have limited hours. Bonds in Oklahoma County jail can be posted from 6:00 AM – 10:30 PM on the weekends and through the week from 6:00 AM – Midnight M-F. However most Oklahoma City bail bonds companies will be able to negotiate a bail bond 24/7.

They will also be able to provide you with the details of your payment and bail bond contract written in easy-to-understand terms. Some companies ask for collateral or ankle monitors on certain bonds and others do not. If the company you choose requires that you hand over the title to your car or other property, then remember you need to be willing to put these possessions on the line. Although bail bondsmen must charge similar fees, they can provide much different payment plans. It is a good sign when a bail bondsman takes the time to understand a client’s financial position and then provides a solution that fits their needs.

Bail bondsmen in Oklahoma are a dime a dozen. However, choosing the best bail bondsman is not easy. Understanding what separates a good bail bondsman from a bad one is essential in selecting the best professional for your needs.