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Understanding bail in Michigan

On Behalf of | May 8, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

Understanding how bail works can help those who are accused of criminal wrongdoing – and their loved ones – make informed decisions about their rights and options. 

At its most basic, bail is a set amount of money that acts as insurance between the court and a defendant. It allows a person accused of a crime to avoid having to spend time in jail while awaiting trial, under the condition that they will return for their court dates. This system aims to balance the presumption of innocence before a verdict while helping to ensure that the accused appears in court as required.

The basics

Bail involves the temporary release of an individual, under specific financial conditions, as they’re navigating the criminal defense process. Types of bail that may be available in Michigan include the following:

  • Cash bail: The defendant (or a loved one) pays the full amount of bail owed in cash. If the defendant attends all of their required court appearances, the bail amount will be refunded, minus any fees or fines that may be due.
  • Surety bond: A bail bondsman pays the bail in return for a fee (typically 10% of the bail amount) and guarantees that the defendant will appear at all required court dates. 
  • Personal recognizance: In some cases, particularly for lesser charges or when the defendant poses little risk of flight, the court may release the individual on their own recognizance. This means release without any financial requirement, based solely on the promise to return to court.

Judges consider multiple elements when setting bail, often including the nature of the offense in question, the circumstances surrounding the case, whether the defendant poses a particular danger to the public and whether the defendant is likely a “flight risk.”

Navigating bail matters in Michigan can be a complex and consequential process. As such, informed and strategic decisions early in the process can significantly impact a defendant’s situation for the better. This is just one of the reasons why seeking personalized guidance as proactively as possible after an arrest is generally wise.