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How Does Bail Work In Colorado?

person being handcuffed prison

It’s a simple question. How does bail work in Colorado? The answers, it seems, aren’t always so direct. So, we’re turning to some Boulder criminal defense lawyer experts to get a better idea of what the average person needs to know about the Colorado bail system and its typical workings. If nothing else, keep the following in mind…

First up, what are we referring to when we’re talking about terms like bail, bail bonds, and the like? In short, when you are arrested in Colorado, it’s possible for someone to secure your release from jail by paying what’s often referred to as bail. This money is held with the court, with the intention of ensuring that you will return to court for whatever proceedings come next.

So, if you get arrested for a criminal offense, the court will sometimes allow your pretrial release if you are able to post bail, which is an agreement with the court that you’ll return for trial. Bail bonds typically require that you put up some money or property (property bond, which we’ll touch on in a moment) and you may have to follow special conditions (personal release, which we’ll also touch on) before your trial to secure your pretrial release.

Failure to follow those release conditions might see you put back in jail. Similarly, not appearing for your court dates will likely see a warrant issued for your arrest, along with the money you put up for bail become forfeit. Here are some key points and terms to remember:

  • Cash bail: You pay money for your release, and the court holds it until after your court date, at which point it will be returned to you.
  • Surety bail: You agree to have a bail bondsman pay your bail amount to the court, for which you must pay a percentage of that total to the bondsman and promise to appear for your court date. This is often secured through some form of collateral.
  • Property bond: A more rare occurrence in which you may use a home or property as bond.
  • Personal Release bond: You might agree to a some form of pretrial release program in lieu of paying money or bonding using property.

Now, for the big question. How much does it cost to bail someone out of jail? Is there a typical amount? How do courts calculate what the amount for bail should be? Like many things legal, this can be a variable, and may be dependent on several contributing factors. The court will likely take your personal situation and finances into consideration, and there may be guidelines the court will follow based on the type of offense (misdemeanor v. felony, for instance).

In Colorado, courts will often make calculations about your likelihood to reoffend and to actually make your court appearance. The lower the perceived risk of reoffense, and the higher the perceived likelihood of you making your court date, the more likely it will be that the court will allow for bail and set the amount somewhere reasonable.