While the 8th Amendment to the Constitution protects the accused against “excessive” bail it doesn’t really go any further than that. There are no other mentions of bail in the Constitution, no explicit right to bail spelled out or guidelines for the various states to follow. Just a quick mention that “Excessive bail shall not be required…” That’s it. As a result, the nature of bail is different as you move from state to state. Some states have even managed to do away with cash bail completely, although with decidedly mixed results. But we live in the great State of Colorado and it’s Colorado bail laws we’re here to take a look at.
Bail bondsman and their associates, bounty hunters, have been operating in Colorado since the days when the state was part of the frontier and outlaws like Butch Cassidy were robbing banks in Telluride. Over the many decades bail agents have helped untold scores of Colorado residents obtain their freedom while awaiting their day in court and that practice continues today. As we said at the outset however, each state has its own take on bail and that includes Colorado. So let’s take a close look at the different ways a person can obtain release from custody in the Rocky Mountain State.
If you have been arrested in Jefferson County, Arapahoe County or Denver County for a relatively minor offense and you have a clean record it’s likely you will be released on your own recognizance. In effect, the court administrators determine that you pose no flight risk and no danger to society as a whole or any particular individual, including yourself. They trust that you are of sufficient character that you will show up for your court date on your own.
The Cite Out is another form of swift release that does not involve putting up any cash or collateral. The Cite Out is so named because the Colorado law enforcement officer issues the arrestee a citation that includes the time and place the arrestee is to appear to face charges. In most cases the arrested person never even sees the inside of a jail. They may instead be held in the back of a police car while the officer writes out the citation. Once handed the citation and informed of their responsibilities they are released.
If the arrestee has been taken to the jail house on suspicion of a fairly serious charge they will usually be offered cash bail. The amount of bail will depend on the seriousness of the crime and the defendant’s past record (if any). The jail may have what’s called a “bail schedule” on hand which will indicate bail amounts for various crimes. If there are mitigating circumstances however, the accused may be held until a bail hearing can be arranged before a judge or magistrate.
Once the bail amount is set the accused or someone associated with them can obtain their release by paying the amount in full. This money will be returned at the end of the criminal proceeding provided the person has complied with all the terms of their release. If they violate the terms of the bail release they forfeit the money. Keep in mind that when you pay the entire cash bail amount yourself that money is not accessible to you until all criminal proceedings have been concluded. And that could take many months or even years.
This is the most common form of bail bond in Colorado. Many folks don’t have enough cash on hand to pay the full bail amount themselves. What they do instead is ask someone else (almost always a close relative), to contact a bondsman and arrange a surety bond. The loved one goes to the bail bond agent, pays a non-refundable fee (usually equal 10 percent of the total bail amount) and puts up collateral of sufficient value to cover the full bail amount.
The loved one then signs a contract becoming the “indemnitor” for the accused. That means they accept responsibility for the defendant after they are released. If the defendant jumps bail the bail is revoked, which means the bail agent loses the money they put up. A warranty is then issued for the arrest of the defendant, the bail agent hires a bounty hunter to track down the fugitive and institutes legal proceedings to force the indemnitor to liquidate assets to settle the debt.
If the defendant lives up to all the terms of their release however, any liens on the indemnitor’s property are lifted once legal proceedings have concluded.
While rare in Colorado this type of bond does occasionally happen. With a property bond the court accepts property as collateral instead of cash. They place a lien on the property for the amount of the bail and the defendant is released while awaiting trial. This type of bond is risky for the person putting up the property however. Because if the defendant is a bad boy or girl and jumps bail the person that put up their house could have it foreclosed by the state. Loved ones should think long and hard before entering into a property bond arrangement with the court.
If you have any questions about bail or if a loved one needs our help call Tayler Made Bail Bonding at (303) 623-0399.