Thinking that you may have an active warrant and can be arrested at any time is nerve wracking. As attorneys, we have intimate knowledge of the jails and the court systems. Strategically timing turning yourself in, using a trusted bondsman, only taking what you need with you to jail, and other tips and tricks can make quashing a warrant or booking through the jail a seamless process (or as seamless as can be).
In this section, timing is everything. Colorado has laws about how long you can be held in custody without going in front of a judge. Specifically, if you’re arrested, you need to be advised of the charges against you and the bond amount within 72 hours. In some cases, there’s no need for such an advisement on low-level misdemeanors because there’s a bond set on the warrant itself, or it’s quote a scheduled bond amount.
In any case, if you are in custody, know that you always get more than one bond hearing. You can ask to reduce your body at any stage during the proceedings as long as you remain in custody. Once you’ve posted bond, you can’t reduce it, though. And if you’ve posted bond and used a bondsman, you can’t get a refund of that amount from your bondsman, either. If you post a cash bond yourself or finance it with family or friends help, you will be able to get a refund once your case resolves, as long as your bond is never forfeited.
You can forfeit your bond through doing things like failing to appear or violating your bond conditions. The big thing to remember is timing is everything. Often if you have a warrant, you should consider turning yourself in on a Monday morning or even Sunday evening. The reason for that is depending on the type of case and whether there is a bond set, or if you will be held on what we call a no bond hold, you want the greatest likelihood of being in front of a judge as quickly as possible. What you don’t want is to have to spend more than one night in jail. If you are arrested or turn yourself in on a Friday night, you will have to stay in custody until court reopens on Monday, unless there’s a bond amount already set. Different jails also have different processes regarding morning bookings versus evening bookings. Some jails go on lockdown at a scheduled time every day in order to make sure that you avoid that and unnecessary time processing, you should consult an attorney who is well versed in local jail procedures near you. Here at Colorado Lawyer Team, we operate in a third of the state of Colorado and have clients who have been in and out of jails throughout most of our major Metro areas.
In Colorado, you can post a cash bond yourself. You have to pay the entire amount. Say it’s a thousand-dollar bond, you will have to pay a thousand dollars cash. If you go through a bondsman, generally, they only require a portion of that, and you’d end up paying about 10% of the bond amount. Most bondsmen will not issue bonds for less than a thousand dollars because it does not return them any money. Basically, what happens with the bondsman is you paid them $100, which is 10% of the cash/surety bond amount, and then they turn around and pay a thousand dollars to get you out of jail. At the end of the case, they get their thousand dollars back and get to keep your $100. They make a nice profit this way. Ultimately, if you post the full $1,000 bond yourself (or a friend/family member does), than that money will come back to you at the end of the case and may even be applied to court fees and costs provided that you’re compliant with the conditions of bond before resolving your case and never fail to appear or otherwise forfeit the bond.
In a lot of cases where our clients don’t have criminal history, or there are other mitigating factors, we can get someone what’s called a PR bond. PR stands for personal recognizance, and it’s not any sort of cash or property that you have to put up. Instead, it’s just a signature saying that you promise to come back to court in rare circumstances. Sometimes courts will let you place a property bond. That means you pledge something like collateral in real life. Most of the time, we don’t see this actually happens. Here is a table outlining bond schedules for judicial districts in Colorado. This can help you determine what your bond may based on the county and offense committed.
We go into locating and dealing with good bondsmen in the section on incarceration and posting bail here.
Ever wonder how to get your stuff back once you’ve gone into jail? Or what is this booking fee that they’re talking about? As long as there’s not anything of evidentiary value, you can usually get any items that are in evidence returned to you at the closure of the case. That often means you will have to complete any sentence from your case before you get to have your property back. In other instances where items are not considered evidence such as your wallet or your keys, they’ll return those items to you at the time that you bond out of jail or leave the jail system. In some circumstances, if you have a lot of cash on your person, we have seen cash used to pay for things like putting money on your books. They’ll sometimes give you that option. If you would like to put that money on your books, and that’s only in the discretion of the jail system and the jail deputies. In other situations, they will process the booking fee directly from your cash on hand. That way they don’t have to take payments. Unfortunately, that may mean that you leave jail $30 less than you walked in with. Unfortunately, there’s not much we can do in terms of the booking fee. However, if you feel that your property has been withheld from you wrongfully, we recommend you talk to an attorney at this time to go over what your options are. In some cases, it’s something as simple as being able to make an appointment on your behalf and have the proper paperwork filled out in advance, or receive a release from the district attorney directly in order to get your material back.