When a person is arrested and held in custody in Colorado, it may be possible to secure the person’s release by posting a bail bond. Bail is money placed with the court for the purpose of ensuring that the person returns to court for future proceedings.
If the arrested person has a low risk of failing to appear and a low risk of harm to the community, the court may be willing to release grant an “own recognizance” release (without having to post bond).
If you are facing a serious criminal charge, have a risk of failing to appear on your court dates, or present a danger to the community, the court is more likely to require you to post a bail bond as a condition of release.
In this article, our Denver Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address the following bail bond faqs:
- 1. How do bail bonds work in Colorado?
- 2. How is bond different than bail?
- 3. How much does it cost to bail someone out of jail?
- 4. What kinds of bail bonds are there?
- 5. What are bond conditions?
- 6. Can you leave the state on bond in Colorado?
- 7. How long can they hold you in jail without a bond in Colorado?
- 8. Can I appeal my bail conditions?
1. How do bail bonds work in Colorado?
In Colorado, a bail bond is an agreement to the court and a condition of pretrial release after an arrest for a criminal offense. A bond can require putting up money, putting up property, or promising to abide by certain conditions in order to be released. If you do not comply with the conditions of release, you may have your bond revoked. If you fail to appear for court proceedings or court hearings after posting bond, you may have a warrant issued for your arrest and forfeit any security interest put up as part of your bond.
A surety bond generally involves going through a bail bond company. The bail bondsman is a third party that agrees to be responsible for the defendant in exchange for taking a fee (10% or 15% of the bond amount) and securing collateral.
2. How is bond different than bail?
In Colorado law, “bond” is an undertaking, with or without sureties or security, entered into by a person in custody to bind him or her to comply with the conditions of the undertaking and in default of compliance, to pay the amount of bail or other sum in the bond.1
“Bail” is a “security, which may include a bond, required by a court for the release of a person in custody set to provide reasonable assurance of public safety and court appearance.” Courts usually accept only a cash bail.2
In most cases, bail refers to the amount of money put up by an individual or their family to be held by the court until the defendant’s criminal case is concluded. Posting bond generally involves a bail bonding company. When the individual or their family does not have enough money to put up the full bail amount, they may pay a fee of 10% or 15% of the amount of the bail to a bondsman (“cash bond”), often secured by some type of collateral.
3. How much does it cost to bail someone out of jail?
There are a number of conditions in the Colorado criminal justice system that affect how much it will cost to get you out of jail. The amount of the bond and bond conditions should be enough to ensure public safety and to ensure the appearance of the defendant in court. This includes basing the amount on the individual’s situation and financial condition.3
A bond schedule sets guidelines for the bond amount based on the specific violation. This includes municipal violations, misdemeanors, and felonies. Some violations, such as a traffic infraction, may require no bond to release the individual. More serious violations, such as a class 1 felony for first-degree murder, have no bond amounts under the guidelines. Without the ability to post bond, a defendant may have to stay in jail until their court case is concluded.
Courts in Colorado may use the Colorado Pretrial Assessment Tool (CPAT) to determine whether an individual is likely to return to court and/or re-offend while on release. This involves assigning a score based on the following factors:
- Having a home or mobile phone
- Owning or renting a residence
- Contributing to residential payments
- Past or current problems with alcohol
- Past or current mental health treatment
- Age when first arrested
- Past jail sentence
- Past prison sentence
- Having active arrest warrants
- Having other pending cases
- Currently on supervision
- History of revoked bond or supervision
Based on the defendant’s score, he or she is assigned to a risk category that relates to their likelihood of making a court appearance or reoffending while on release. Under state criminal law, level 1 is the lowest pretrial risk category with level 4 being the highest risk category.
During bail hearings in front of the judge, the district attorney / prosecutors typically argue for high bail. Meanwhile, defendants will argue for O.R. release or a lower bail.
Note that there is a $10 bond processing fee. And if a credit card is used, there is a 3.5% credit card processing fee.
4. What kinds of bail bonds are there?
There are a number of types of bonds available to release someone from jail. However, the court may only allow a certain type of bond, depending on the defendant’s offense and risk assessment factor, subject to statutory conditions of release.
- An “unsecured personal recognizance bond” allows the defendant to be released “in an amount specified by the court.” The defendant may have a set bond amount on their personal recognizance (PR) release; however, they do not have to give the court a security interest. The defendant can go free without posting bail or getting a bail bond. 4
- An “unsecured personal recognizance bond with additional nonmonetary conditions” may require additional conditions of release, in addition to an amount specified by the court. Similar to a PR release, the defendant may have to abide by certain nonmonetary conditions to ensure they do not reoffend and will reappear in court. 5
- “Bond with secured monetary condition,” which are reasonable and necessary to ensure the appearance of the person in court or the safety of the community. 6 This may require providing the court bail money directly, or contacting a bail bond company and pay the bail bond fee.
- “Bond with secured real estate conditions,” when it is determined that release on an unsecured personal recognizance bond without monetary conditions will not ensure the appearance of the person in court or the safety of the community. A property bond is more rarely issued than other types of bond. The court places a lien on the property to ensure the defendant’s appearance. If they do not appear, the court may foreclose on the property. 7
5. What are bond conditions?
In addition to setting a monetary bond amount, the court may impose conditions on the conduct of the person released to assist in obtaining the appearance of the person in court and the safety of the community. Conditions may include:
- Periodic telephone contact;
- Periodic office visits;
- Periodic visits to the person’s home by law enforcement;
- Periodic drug or alcohol testing;
- Mental health or domestic violence counseling;
- Substance abuse treatment;
- Pretrial work release; and
- Electronic monitoring.8
The purpose of granting bail and conditions is to avoid pretrial detention for defendants who pose little safety risk and are likely to appear for their court hearings. But when defendants fail to follow these conditions, the trial court judge may remand them to jail.
6. Can you leave the state on bond in Colorado?
It depends on the case. Sometimes judges will allow defendants out on bond to travel out-of-state, and sometimes judges require defendants to remain in state. In some cases, judges permit defendants to travel out of state if they ask the court for permission first.
7. How long can they hold you in jail without a bond in Colorado?
Colorado law requires arrestees to be brought before a judge within 48-hours for the initial bond setting. Though if the arrest occurred before a weekend or holiday, it is not unusual for more than 48 hours pass before this first court appearance.9
8. Can I appeal my bail conditions?
Yes, but it is an uphill battle. When an appeals court reviews a trial court’s bail decisions, it uses an “abuse of discretion” standard. This means that the appeals court will uphold the trial court’s bail decisions if it is at all reasonable. Bail can only be overturned if it is manifestly unfair and/or illegal.10
When determining bail amounts and bond conditions, the judge is obligated to do the following four things:
- “consider all methods of bond and conditions of release to avoid unnecessary pretrial incarceration”;11
- determine that the bond condition is “reasonable and necessary to ensure the appearance of the person in court or the safety of any person or persons in the community”;12
- calculate what bail amount and conditions are necessary to protect public safety and maximize the odds of the defendant showing up to court “taking into consideration the individual characteristics of each person in custody, including the person’s financial condition”;13 and
- infer that the defendant is “eligible for release on bond with the appropriate and least restrictive conditions”.14
If the appeals court finds that the trial judge met these standards, it will likely uphold the bail conditions.
If you have been arrested and are awaiting a bond hearing in Colorado, please contact our defense attorneys. Our Colorado criminal law firm practices throughout the state, including Denver, Boulder, Jefferson County, Arapahoe, and more. And we defend against all types of charges from DUI to sexual assault.
- Colorado Revised Statute 16-1-104(5); note that bail bonding agents need a Colorado license and have an insurance company appointment or be a qualified cash bonding agent; the Division of Insurance handles enforcement and complaints.
- CRS 16-1-104 subsection (3).
- CRS 16-4-103(3)(a).
- CRS 16-4-104(1)(a).
- CRS 16-4-104(1)(b).
- CRS 16-4-104(1)(c).
- CRS 16-4-104(1)(d); see also Fullerton v. County Court (Colo. App. 2005), 124 P.3d 866 (bail for defendants awaiting extradition before a governor’s warrant are governed by Colorado statute C.R.S. 16-19-117).
- CRS 16-4-105(8).
- CRS 16-4-102.
- See People v. Jones, (2015) CO 20, 346 P.3d 44.
- CRS 16-4-103(4)(c).
- CRS 16-4-104(1)(c); CRS 16-4-105(7).
- CRS 16-4-103(3)(a).
- CRS 16-4-103(4)(a). See also H.B. 13-1236 (Concerning Pre -Trial Release From Custody). See also American Bar Association Standards of Criminal Justice Standard 10-1.4. Conditions of release:
“(a) Consistent with these Standards, each jurisdiction should adopt procedures designed to promote the release of defendants on their own recognizance or, when necessary, unsecured bond. Additional conditions should be imposed on release only when the need is demonstrated by the facts of the individual case reasonably to ensure appearance at court proceedings, to protect the community, victims, witnesses or any other person and to maintain the integrity of the judicial process. Whenever possible, methods for providing the appropriate judicial officer with reliable information relevant to the release decision should be developed, preferably through a pretrial services agency or function, as described in Standard 10-1.9.
(b) When release on personal recognizance is not appropriate reasonably to ensure the defendant’s appearance at court and to prevent the commission of criminal offenses that threaten the safety of the community or any person, constitutionally permissible non-financial conditions of release should be employed consistent with Standard 10-5.2.
(c) Release on financial conditions should be used only when no other conditions will ensure appearance. When financial conditions are imposed, the court should first consider releasing the defendant on an unsecured bond. If unsecured bond is not deemed a sufficient condition of release, and the court still seeks to impose monetary conditions, bail should be set at the lowest level necessary to ensure the defendant’s appearance and with regard to a defendant’s financial ability to post bond.
(d) Financial conditions should not be employed to respond to concerns for public safety.
(e) The judicial officer should not impose a financial condition of release that results in the pretrial detention of a defendant solely due to the defendant’s inability to pay.
(f) Consistent with the processes provided in these Standards, compensated sureties should be abolished. When financial bail is imposed, the defendant should be released on the deposit of cash or securities with the court of not more than ten percent of the amount of the bail, to be returned at the conclusion of the case.”