In the Colorado criminal justice system, a bail bond is a surety placed with the court to ensure that a defendant appears at future court proceedings. If you have a low risk of failing to appear and a low risk of harm to the community, the court may be willing to release you on your own recognizance (without having to post bond). If you are facing a serious crime, have a risk of failing to appear, 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 Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address the following bail bond laws:
- 1. What is a bail bond?
- 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?
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% to 15% of the bond amount) and securing collateral.
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% to 15% of the amount of the bail to a bondsman (“cash bond”), often secured by some type of collateral.
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 their 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 reoffend 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 a high bail. Meanwhile, defendants will argue for O.R. release or a lower bail.
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 that other types of bond. The court places a lien on property to ensure the defendant’s appearance. If they do not appear, the court may foreclose on the property. 7
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
If the defendant fails to follow these conditions, the trial court judge may remand him/her to jail.
If you have been arrested and are awaiting a bond hearing in Colorado, please contact our defense attorneys. Our law firm creates attorney-client relationships throughout the state, including Denver, Boulder, Jefferson County, Arapahoe, and more.
- CRS 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(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); see also People v. Jones, (2015) CO 20, 346 P.3d 44 (A judge can revoke a defendant’s bond under subsection (3) temporarily only to change bond conditions).