Before making national headlines in some states and communities, Arizona addressed the issue of catch and release programs and letting people out of jail without posting bail.
The Arizona State Legislature had considered bail reform issues on several occasions, but none of them were adopted.
Then, in December 2016, the Arizona Supreme Court stepped in and ordered changes to the Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure
in order to allow more low-income and low-risk defendants to be released until their trials were over on their own promise to appear in court, called own recognizance (OR).
Proponents of no bail argue that the only thing bail accomplishes is dividing people who have money from those who do not.
The opposing view held by many, including the bail bonding industry, is that posting bail gives defendants a financial interest in showing up for court dates. However, the Pretrial Justice Institute in 2013 found that defendants who paid bail were no more likely to attend court proceedings than a person released on “OR.”
The Laura and John Arnold Foundation’s study of 1.5 million cases from 300 U.S. jurisdictions showed that low-income, low-risk defendants often lost their jobs and their places to live because they could not pay for bail.
The foundation’s study also developed a tool for assessing flight risk, called a Public Safety Assessment, to determine if the defendant is a risk.
Arizona courts are using a variation of the Arnold Foundation’s risk screening tool to evaluate if a defendant is a flight risk. Prosecutors are not convinced, however, that the people making the assessment decisions are qualified to do so.
Everyone is innocent of a criminal offense until proven guilty. So, posting bail to stay out of jail while awaiting trial is certainly desirable. Criminal charges can take a long time until the end of a case, years perhaps.
However, bail is not always an option. Bail is not available in capital cases which involve the death penalty. No bail also includes sexual conduct and sexual assault with a minor who is younger than 15 years old or molesting a child under 15. Both of these exceptions
require “proof that is evident or the presumption of guilt is great.”
Bail is also forbidden in felony offenses for defendants who are charged with a felony while out of custody on bail.
Arizona Judges’ discretion in setting bail
In setting the amount of bail, judges will hear prosecution and defense arguments for no bail or decreasing the prosecution’s requested amount of bail at a bail hearing in court. At the time a defendant is formally told of the charge, which is at the initial appearance or during the arraignment, the amount of bail and its conditions are decided by the judge.
Common conditions for bailing out of jail are dependent upon the nature and seriousness of the charge. The conditions are designed to prevent witness intimidation, protect the safety of the victim and the public. The conditions are:
- Any prior felony arrests or the lack of previous criminal history
- Previous failures to appear at scheduled court dates
- Ties to local community
- Staying away from certain places
- Obeying all laws
- No drug or alcohol consumption (if the offense is related to those stimulants)
- Cannot leave Arizona
- Keeping a job or seeking employment
- No contact with certain people including witnesses
- Possessing firearms and other weapons
- Disobeying curfews set by the court
Defendants who do not honor the conditions of bail will result in evocation of the bail bond and forfeiting the amount of money used in posting bail.
Bail bond pricing
The price of a bail bond is dependent upon the amount of bail a judge decides. If the court sets bail at $10,000 and the defendant doesn’t have the cash or a credit card to post bail the defendant can use a bail bonding company. These companies charge 10 percent ($1,000) – the highest percentage allowed by Arizona law. This is the bondman’s fee for posting bail and that money is not recoverable. The bond company also will charge fees and expenses and require collateral, such as the pink slip for a vehicle or the deed to a home that will be returned once the case is concluded.
Missing an Arizona court appearance
The ramifications of failing to attend court sessions will result in revocation of the bail bond and the defendant will be taken into custody and the sponsor of the bail bond will lose the money or property securing the bail bond.
Defendants who purposely fail to appear are committing a crime. The judge will issue a bench warrant for the defendant to be arrested and held in jail. Securing another bail bond is not an option for these defendants.
The bail bond company has the legal right to have a bounty hunter find, capture, and take the fleeing defendant into police custody so the bail bonding company will not forfeit the money or property it invested. The company also will charge a bond surrender fee and that amount can be even more than what was originally posted.
Aaron M. Black Law for your defense
I work to develop compelling evidence to present at a bail bond hearing arguing for the court to release defendants without any bail.
If you or a loved one have been charged or are under investigation for a criminal or DUI offense, immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney such as myself. In my career as an aggressive defense attorney, I know that good people can find themselves in legal difficulty and that is why I work hard to ensure they have the best defense possible.
My goal is always to have the charge dismissed.
I will scrutinize the state’s evidence and the personnel records of the investigators involved, looking for inconsistencies and errors. I also will work to develop information and evidence that is favorable to you.
At Aaron M. Black Law, you will receive personalized legal services. You will always be talking directly to me, never an assistant, at every stage of your case.
Begin your defense immediately by calling 480-729-1683 at any time, on any day, and I will respond promptly unless I am in court on at trial. Or use the online contact form
on my website.
I defend bail bond cases throughout Arizona, including the city of Phoenix and Scottsdale, and Maricopa, Pinal, Yavapai, and Coconino County Superior Courts.