How Does the Bail Bonding Process Work?


You have been arrested. You do not have a “get out of jail” free card, so what do you do? If you are accused of a crime and arrested in Chicago, the first thing you will want to do is call your attorney. The very next thing you will want to do is find out if you are eligible for bail. But what is the process?

The Illinois State Legislature does permit an accused to be released on bond, however, unlike most other states, Illinois does not permit private bail bond companies to operate anywhere in the state. The bail bond must be obtained from a state- or county-run agency.

After bail is set, an accused may obtain a bond by paying the full amount of the bail in cash (a “C” bond), paying a percentage of the bail (a “D” bond which is usually 10% of the total amount of the bail), or providing collateral (i.e., a lien on real estate) before he or she can be released. The deposit for the bond will be returned to the accused after he or she appears in court, or if real estate was used as collateral, the lien placed on the real estate will be removed.

There is one other way an accused can be released from jail without paying bail and that is if he or she is “released on his or her own recognizance” (an “I” bond). This means that there is no bail set. The accused is released on a written promise that he or she will appear in court for all upcoming hearings, and will not violate any of the additional conditions attached to this type of release.

How it Works

According to Chicago law enforcement, anyone accused of a crime in Chicago can post a bond with the exception of those accused of capital murder, or any crime that may potentially carry a sentence of life in prison. Once arrested and booked, a bail amount will be set by the Central Bonding Court magistrate.

Your Constitutional Right to Bail

Our Constitution states that “no one, once arrested, shall be subjected to an excessive bail amount.” This means that the courts must not use the bail bonding system as a means to punish an accused for being arrested for a crime before he or she is tried. The sole purpose of the bail bonding system is to ensure that an accused person will return to court for any hearings set in the case pertaining to his arrest.

With that said, it is a well known fact that judges often set bails at unreasonably high or excessive amounts so that the accused will be unable to bail out of jail. This becomes more of a public policy issue, as judges are using their discretion in setting bail amounts for individuals arrested for certain types of crimes such as drug dealing, murder or other crimes where flight is a real possibility. Most arguments that these types of excessive bails violate the Constitution have been unsuccessful.

What if I Cannot Afford the Bail?

Even if the bail is set for a reasonable amount, some individuals still find that they cannot afford to pay the bond, or do not have any family member or friend willing to post the bond for them. In those instances, the accused may ask the judge to lower the bail. Depending on certain factors, such as whether it is the accused’s first offense, the judge may reconsider the bail amount.

After Being Released on Bond, What Next?

After the accused is released on bail, he is given a hearing date that he must attend to avoid a revocation of the bond. If the bond is revoked, the accused is re-arrested and the amount of the bond becomes non-refundable.

Can My Bail be Revoked for Any Reason?

Yes, your bail can be revoked for a number of reasons. The most common reasons for a revocation of bail is not showing up for a court hearing (“jumping bail”), violating a condition of the bail, or committing another crime while out on bail.

David Freidberg is Here to Help You Understand Your Rights

If accused of a crime, it is important that you know what your rights are and how to protect them. If the police are going to interrogate you, then you have the right to have your attorney present. Knowing your rights is the first step in the process, so if you are being charged with a any crime, including murder, sexual assault, or battery, and would like to discuss all of the potential defenses available to you, call an experienced criminal defense attorney at the David Freidberg law office today, at (312) 560-7100, or send an email, for a no-obligation consultation.

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