5 things you didn’t know about bail

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A recent study found that people who remained in jail before trial were more likely to plead guilty to a crime, and more likely to be found guilty by a jury.

If you can afford the full bail amount, getting out on bail is pretty straightforward. It acts as a deposit to the court, intended to guarantee you’ll come back for your court date.

But bail is often set at tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars – too high for most people to pay in full. This is where bail bond agents s offices come in. They will put up the money, but charge a fee, usually about 10 percent of the total amount.

Here are 5 things about bail that might surprise you

1. The US is one of only two countries in the world that has a commercial bail system. The other is the Philippines.

2. America’s commercial bail system began in a bar in San Francisco at the turn of the century. Peter and Thomas McDonnough started putting up bail money to help the lawyers who drank in their father’s saloon get their clients out of jail. Eventually they started “McDonnough Bros” the first bail bond business.

3. More than half the US jail population was pre-trial in 2013 according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. That’s about 420,000 people in jail awaiting trial.

4. Commercial bail bond businesses are outlawed in some states, including Illinois, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Oregon.

5. Bail bond agents have some of the same powers as police officers plus some extra ones, when it comes to their clients. An 1872 Supreme Court Case Taylor vs Taintor ruled that they “may pursue him into another State; may arrest him on the Sabbath; and if necessary, may break and enter his house for that purpose.”

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