At Chances Bail Bonds, we understand that many of our clients are looking for bail bonds for the first time. For that reason, we are dedicated to providing you the best information possible about the bail bonding process in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This glossary of bail bonding terms is designed to help you better understand many of the concepts that you may encounter during the process of getting a bail bond.
Absconding Debtor – An individual who flees a jurisdiction to avoid having to stand trial and fulfill his or her legal obligation.
Affidavit – An affidavit is a written statement that contains the facts of a situation. When a witness, plaintiff, or defendant completes an affidavit, the individual is under oath that the statements he or she makes are fact.
Appeal – An appeal is a process by which either the defense or prosecution will request that a new trial be had in a higher court to review the decision made by the first court. The higher court is then called an appellate court. The individual requesting the appeal is called the appellant.
Arraign – The court action in which a defendant’s name is called by an official, the official (usually a judge) reads the charges against the defendant, and asks the defendant how he or she pleads. This process is called arraignment.
Arrest – If you are looking for a bail bond, chances are good that you have been arrested or know someone who has been arrested. An arrest occurs when a police officer or officer of the law take a crime suspect into custody. After an arrest, a suspect is generally transported to a booking facility, which is where they may be kept in the short term while they await bail.
Arrest Warrant – Some of our clients have had arrest warrants out of them. An arrest warrant is an official legal document that is issued by a public officer. The document authorizes an individual to be arrested and detained. Sometimes, if a client has gotten out of jail on bail but fails to appear in court or fulfill his or her legal obligation, an arrest warrant will be issued for that individual.
Bench Trial – A bench trial is a trial over which a judge will preside instead of a jury.
Brief – A brief is a written statement provided by both the defense and the prosecution. In the brief, each side states why the court should decide in that party’s favor.
Bail – Bail is the amount of money or collateral that that a court will hold onto in exchange for a suspect’s fulfillment of his or her legal obligation to the courts. If the suspect fails to fulfill his or her legal obligation, the bail will not be returned to the suspect. However, as long as the suspect fulfills his or her legal obligation, the bail will be returned to the bail payee, even if the individual is found to be guilty.
Bail Bondsman – A bail bondsman, or bonding agent, is an individual or a company, like Chances Bail Bonds, who provides a suspect with the bail he or she needs to be released from jail on bail. The bail bondsman is responsible for ensuring that the suspect fulfills his or her legal obligation to the courts.
Bail Forfeiture – In the event that a defendant gets out of custody on bail, the defendant must complete his or her full legal obligation to the courts. However, if the defendant fails to complete his o her legal obligation, the defendant forfeits the bail refund. This is called bail forfeiture.
Bail Schedule – When a suspect is arrested, the suspect will be accused of specific crimes. Those crimes have different bail amounts associated with them. The bail schedule is a list of the base bail amounts associated with different crimes. These bail amounts may vary from municipality to municipality. Also, the bail schedule is just the base amount of the bail. Bail amounts can vary based on other factors as well, such as the nature of the crime, the criminal history of the defendant, and other factors.
Bounty Hunter – In the event that a suspect is released from custody on bail but does not fulfill his or her legal obligation, a bounty hunter may be hired to find and arrest the individual. When a bounty hunter is used, the bounty hunter has an arrest warrant that entitles him or her to arrest and detain the suspect. The U.S. is the only country that allows legal bounty hunting. The bounty hunter will receive a monetary reward for the arrest of a suspect.
Capital Offense – A capital offense is a crime that is punishable by death, such as murder.
Case Law – Case law is the law that sets a precedent by being reflected in the written decisions made by the courts.
Cash Bond – When a suspect is given the opportunity to get out of custody on bail, the bail may be called a “cash only” bail, which means that the suspect must supply the courts with cash in exchange for his or her release.
Charge – A charge is the term used to describe the crime for which the suspect has been arrested. Charges may be misdemeanor or felonies. A suspect can be arrested for multiple charges.
Collateral – Assets that a suspect pledges as part of a loan repayment in the event that the suspect cannot provide cash. Collateral may include cash, vehicles, houses, and more. This is also called Collateral Security.
Criminal Trial – A type of trial that is used to determine the extent of a crime that a suspect may or may not have committed and the sentence that the suspect may have to pay as a result of the crime. Suspects who have been released from jail on bail must fulfill their criminal trial obligations.
Conviction – A conviction is a judgment against a criminal defendant. The conviction is followed by sentencing.
Court Order – A judge may require a specific action to be taken during the legal process. If so, the judge will demand this action in a court order. The court order also establishes administrative processes that pertain to court action.
Defendant – The defendant (or suspect) is the individual who has been accused of committing a crime.
Deposition – A deposition is an oral statement that an individual will make to an authorized officer. The deposition may be used to find witnesses, learn more information about the situation, or used as evidence during a trial.
Docket – The docket is a log that contains full information about each case. The docket is organized chronologically and summarizes court proceedings.
Felony – A felony is a type of criminal offense for which a defendant can be charged. Felony crimes generally have higher bail amounts and stricter sentences than other types of crimes.
Fugitive – A fugitive is an individual who is fleeing custody. Bounty hunters may be used to track down fugitives.
Incarceration – When a defendant has to stay in jail or a penitentiary.
Indictment – An indictment is a charge that is issued by a grand jury in which the jury states that there is enough evidence to support the claim against the defendant to warrant a trial going forward. Indictments are generally used with felony cases.
Injunction – An injunction is a court order that prohibits a defendant from a certain action or that requires a defendant to perform a certain action.
Judge – A judge is the court official who presides over the court during a trial.
Jurisdiction – Jurisdiction may refer to the geographic area where a court has the authority to decide cases.
Jurisdiction may also refer to the court’s authority to hear a case.
Jury – Some court cases are tried by a jury of the suspect’s peers. The jury is comprised of individuals who have sworn to be rational and impartial as they analyze statements made by the prosecution and defense. The jury determines the outcome of the trial. Not all cases are heard by a jury.
Jury Trial – When a case is heard by a jury, it is considered to be a jury trial.
Lawyer – A lawyer (also known as an attorney) is an individual who is trained in the legal system and licensed to practice law. Individuals who are arrested and tried in Virginia need to use a lawyer who is licensed for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Lawyers advise their clients of legal issues both inside and outside of the court.
Lien – A lien is a claim upon property by when the property owner is in debt. In such a situation, a bail bonding agency may take out a lien on a defendant’s property to ensure that the defendant completes his or her legal obligation. The defendant will remain ownership of the property during this time.
Misdemeanor – A type of criminal offense that is considered to be minor.
Motion – A motion is a request by either the defense or proscription to a judge.
Offense – An offense is the actual act that a defendant is suspected of committing that has violated the law. Defendants are charged for their offenses.
Petty Offense – A petty offense is a federal misdemeanor that is accompanied by a punishment of 6 months or less in prison.
Plaintiff – The complaining party in a civil court case.
Plea – A defendant’s response to the charges against him or her. Pleas will be “guilty” or “not guilty.”
Posting Bail – When a defendant is given the opportunity to get out of jail on bail, the defendant will “post bail” when he or she supplies the court with the full bail amount. Many defendants use the services of a bail bonding agency to post the full amount of bail required to be released from custody.
Probation – Probation is a period of time in which a defendant will be under the supervision of a probation officer. The officer ensures that the defendant follow rules. Generally, a defendant will receive probation in lieu of imprisonment.
Prosecutor – The prosecutor is the lawyer who represents the state. A prosecutor is on the opposing side of the trial as the defendant.
Recognizance – Some defendants will be released from custody on their own recognizance, which means that they will not be required to pay for bail. However, individuals who are released on their own recognizance are still required to return to court to complete their full legal obligations.
Remand – When a defendant is not given the opportunity to leave custody on bail or on his or her own recognizance, or cannot afford to make bail, the individual is held on remand.
Sentence – A sentence is the determination of the punishment that a defendant will receive in response to the crime that he or she has been accused of committing. Sentencing happens at the end of a trial and is determined based on the crime(s).
Suspect – A suspect is the individual who is accused of having committed a crime. The suspect is the same person as the defendant.
Surety – A surety is an individual or entity that pays bail for a defendant and then assumes responsibility of a defendant. The surety ensures that the defendant completes his o her legal obligation buy appearing in court. If the defendant fails to complete his or her legal obligation, the surety will lose the money that he or she committed to the defendant’s bail.
Trial – A trial is the process of determining whether or not a crime has been committed and/or whether or not the defendant played a role. During the trial, either a judge or a jury is responsible for analyzing arguments from the defense and prosecution and determining an appropriate sentence for the suspect.
Verdict – The verdict is the final decision that a judge or a jury has made about the involvement of a suspect in a crime. The verdict also contains the sentence, if a crime has been committed by the defendant.
Warrant – A warrant is an official authorization that allows authorities to perform a specific act related to a crime that a suspect is accused of committing. An arrest warrant is one type of warrant that authorizes a suspect to be arrested and detained.