Bail (Setting Bail) and the Arraignment

The court through a judge or clerk-magistrate will set "bail" for a criminal defendant after the individual has been arrested and charged with a criminal offense.

The "bail" will reflect an amount of money that will insure a criminal defendant will appear in court for all related proceedings. Many jurisdictions have preset amounts of bail or bonds scheduled to speed up the process, but some charges must have the bail amount set by the Court. When setting bail or addressing a challenge to excessive bond settings, the Court can look at a series of factors including:

  1. the nature and circumstances of the offense;
  2. the defendant’s family ties to the community;
  3. the defendant’s financial resources;
  4. the defendant’s length of residence in the community;
  5. the defendant’s character and mental condition;
  6. the defendant’s criminal history; and
  7. the defendant’s previous record of appearing in Court as required.

Posting Bail

Posting of bail is done in the Courthouse during regular business hours. The Criminal Clerk's Office accepts cash bail during working hours and does not impose the standard $35.00 fee. Bail may be posted at the jail where the defendant is held. Generally a jail will only permit bail to be posted at particular hours and there is a fee ($35.00) payable to the official who receives the bail on behalf of the court. Bail can also be posted by posting or pledging real estate of a value greater than the cash value of the bail. Bail can also generally be posted at any hour by purchasing a bond from a bail bonding company.

Returned Bail

Bail may be returned to the defendant when a case has been disposed. In order to have the bail refunded the defendant must bring the receipt and a picture identification to the Criminal Clerk's Office. The bail will be returned to the individual who signed for it. If the receipt has been lost or misplaced the defendant must obtain a notarized letter from a Notary Public, stating that the receipt has been lost or misplaced.

Forfeited Bail

Bail is forfeited by the Court and turned over to the State Treasurer when the defendant fails to appear in court on any date prior to the conclusion of the case. A doubling or tripling of the bond amount usually occurs and a Warrant for arrest issues at the end of the day.


An arraignment is the first stage of a criminal proceeding during which an individual is charged with committing a criminal offense. Arraignment can take place within a day or two if the defendant is in Jail, or can be several days or weeks later if out of Custody. The Charges are read aloud if not waived by the Defendant. The Defendant enters a plea of "Not Guilty" or a plea of "Not Guilty" is entered on his/her behalf. If the charges are for a Felony offense, an attorney is required by the Court. The Court will usually set a date for a "No Issue" Preliminary Hearing at this appearance. If the offense is a Misdemeanor, then a date is usually set for pre-trial to determine if the case can be settled or must go to trial. The Court may pass the Arraignment upon the Defendant's request for time to retain an attorney, but will usually not pass it more than twice. The Court may appoint an Attorney to represent the Defendant, but usually only if the Defendant is destitute and in custody or if out of custody, is destitute and not able to get any form of work due to a medical condition.