Arizona Bail Laws
Although there are some serious felony offenses that are considered “non-bondable,” the federal and Arizona constitutions and the Rules of Criminal Procedure establish a presumption in favor of own recognizance release in most cases, and that bail is to be required only as necessary to reasonably assure a person’s appearance at court. See Ariz. Const., Art. 2 § 22; A.R.S. § 13-3961; 13-3967; Ariz. R. Crim. P., Rule 7.
Release conditions are to be set based on a defendant’s specific circumstances and pre-trial custody should not be in place as a means of pre-guilt punishment. See Rule 7, Ariz. Rules of Crim. Pro.; A.R.S. § 13-3972.
Bail in Arizona
Bail can take any of the following forms:
- cash or check for the full amount of the bail
- property worth the full amount of the bail
- a bond (that is, a guaranteed payment of the full bail amount), or
- a waiver of payment on the condition that the defendant appear in court at the required time (commonly called “release on one’s own recognizance”).
A bail bond is like a check held in reserve: It represents the person’s promise that he or she will appear in court when required to. The bail bond is purchased by payment of a nonrefundable premium (usually about 10% of the face amount of the bond).
A bail bond may sound like a good deal, but buying a bond may cost more in the long run. If the full amount of the bail is paid, it will be refunded (less a small administrative fee) when the case is over and all required appearances have been made. On the other hand, the 10% premium is nonrefundable. In addition, the bond seller may require “collateral.” This means that the person who pays for the bail bond must also give the bond seller a financial interest in some of the person’s valuable property. The bond seller can cash in on this interest if the suspect fails to appear in court.
Getting Out of Jail Free
Sometimes people are released “on their own recognizance,” or “O.R.” A defendant released O.R. must simply sign a promise to show up in court. He doesn’t have to post bail.
A defendant commonly requests release on his own recognizance at his first court appearance. If the judge denies the request, he then asks for low bail.
In general, defendants who are released O.R. have strong ties to a community, making them unlikely to flee. Factors that may convince a judge to grant an O.R. release include the following:
- The defendant has family members (most likely parents, a spouse or children) living in the community.
- The defendant has resided in the community for many years.
- The defendant has a job.
- The defendant has little or no past criminal record, or any previous criminal problems were minor and occurred many years earlier.
- The defendant has been charged with previous crimes and has always appeared as required.
If someone you know is in custody, give us a call to discuss whether modification or reduction of bail is warranted. (480) 773-7901. Or contact us for a free case evaluation.