Dan Murphy
By: Dan Murphy

What is Bail? What is Bond? How Do They Differ?

If you’re charged with a crime in or near the Denver area, you may or may not have to pay a cash bond for your release. What’s certain is that you must have the advice and services of a Denver bond lawyer, and you must contact that lawyer as soon as possible after you have been arrested.

The words “bond” and “bail” are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Bail is the cash that a defendant pays to be released from jail. A bond is the defendant’s agreement to appear in court, and a bond often includes bail.

In the State of Colorado, which criminal defendants have to pay bail? If you are charged with a crime in this state, how long may you be held before your bond is set? What will a Denver bond attorney do on your behalf? Keep reading for the answers you may need.

What Does It Take to Be Released After You’ve Been Arrested?

In this state, a bond requires a defendant to put up money, put up property, or promise to adhere to certain terms and conditions. If the defendant fails to comply with those terms and conditions, the defendant’s bond may be revoked.

If a defendant fails to appear in court after posting a bond, a warrant may be issued for that defendant’s arrest, and any cash that was put up for the bond will be forfeited.

For most people who are charged with a crime, obtaining a bond will mean working with a bail bond company. A bail bond company takes a fee, usually ten or fifteen percent of the bail amount, and arranges for the defendant’s release.

Since the bail bond company could potentially lose a large amount of cash, it may require the defendant to check in regularly or consent to be monitored. If the defendant does not appear for court, the company may use the services of a bail recovery agent or “bounty hunter.”

What Will It Cost to Be Released From Jail?

A variety of factors determine what it may cost to be released after you’ve been arrested. The amount of bail and the conditions of the bond should be sufficient to ensure the safety of the public and the defendant’s appearance in court.

Some minor offenses may not require a bond to obtain the defendant’s release. The most serious crimes, such as first-degree murder, do not allow for a bond. In other cases, if the defendant cannot post a bond, he or she may be required to remain in custody until the case has concluded.

What is the Colorado Pretrial Assessment Tool?

The Colorado Pretrial Assessment Tool (CPAT) is used by Colorado courts to determine if a defendant is likely to reoffend while released or is likely to fail to appear in court. The CPAT assigns a score to a defendant based on that defendant’s:

  1.  previous criminal record
  2.  employment record
  3.  home ownership or rental
  4.  record of alcohol, drug, and mental health issues
  5.  active warrants or other pending criminal cases

Based on a defendant’s CPAT score, the defendant is assigned to a risk category. Level One is the lowest risk category, and defendants in this category are in some cases released on their own recognizance.

Level Four is the highest risk category, and defendants in this category will face high bail amounts or will be denied bail.

What Types of Bonds Are Available to Criminal Defendants in Colorado?

Four kinds of bonds are available to most criminal defendants in Colorado, but in some cases, a court may allow only a particular kind of bond, depending on the charge or charges and the defendant’s potential risk of reoffending or failing to appear in court:

  1.  With an unsecured personal recognizance bond, a defendant may be released – on his or her promise to return for court – without paying bail or obtaining a bond.
  2.  With an unsecured personal recognizance bond “with additional nonmonetary conditions,” a defendant may be released without paying bail or obtaining a bond, but the defendant must adhere to specific terms and conditions of release set forth by the court.
  3.  With a “bond with secured monetary condition,” a defendant is released after paying bail money directly to the court or with the help of a bail bond company.
  4.  Property bonds are rare. The court imposes a lien on a defendant’s property (or in some cases, a friend’s or relative’s property) to ensure the defendant appears in court. The court may foreclose on the property if the defendant fails to appear.

Can You Appeal Your Bail Amount or Bond Conditions?

Once bail has been set by a court, you may appeal the conditions of the bond or the amount of the bail, but such appeals are difficult to win. The amount and conditions will only be changed on appeal if they are “manifestly” unfair or unlawful.

How Long May Someone Be Held Without Bond?

Colorado requires a bond hearing for a defendant within forty-eight hours of an arrest. However, if the defendant was arrested immediately before a holiday or a weekend, more than forty-eight hours may pass before the courts reopen and a bond hearing can be conducted.

Some Colorado courts provide a standard bail schedule for common crimes so that bail can be offered to a defendant almost immediately and without a hearing.

If you are placed under arrest and charged with a crime in or near the Denver area, you must arrange immediately to speak with a Denver bond attorney who will seek to have your bail reduced or to have you released on your own recognizance.

What Are Your Rights When You Are Arrested?

If you are being placed under arrest, do not physically resist the police officers. Instead, politely insist on your right to remain silent. You can simply say, “I would prefer not to answer any of your questions until my defense attorney can be present,” and then say no more.

After an arrest, contact a Denver bond lawyer at your first opportunity. Everyone who has been charged with a crime has the right to a lawyer. If you’re charged with a criminal offense, take advantage of that right. Don’t attempt to act as your own attorney. Too much will be at risk.

A Denver defense lawyer will offer you reliable legal advice about your bail alternatives, defense strategies, and other challenges you may face after an arrest. However, you must take the first step and call the law offices of a Denver defense attorney for the help you will need.

Dan Murphy
By: Dan Murphy

Denver criminal defense lawyer Daniel M. Murphy provides clients in the Denver area with aggressive and sympathetic legal representation. He graduated from the University of Denver Law School in 1994 and worked as a public defender before starting his own practice in 1996. He has defended clients accused of the most difficult criminal and alcohol-related charges. He also serves as a Moot Court Judge for Denver-area law students who rely on his mentorship.