Types of Bail in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania courts may attach one or more conditions to a bail agreement. These conditions help ensure that defendants show up for their scheduled court hearings. Understanding these conditions is critical for securing release from a Pennsylvania jail.

Release on Monetary Conditions

If the court decides, based on the defendant’s criminal history and connections to the community, that a monetary incentive is required to compel the defendant to show up for court, cash bail may be set. The law requires this amount to only be enough to motivate the defendant to appear in court. However, some defendants may be unable to afford their bail amount. In these cases, a Lancaster County bail bonds service may be used. 

Release on Non-Monetary Conditions

If the court doesn’t think a defendant needs a monetary incentive to show up for court dates, the defendant may be released on non-monetary conditions. These conditions may include a restriction on who the defendant can see, limits on where the defendant can travel or a requirement that the defendant avoid coming in contact with witnesses expected to be called for the defendant’s case. 

Release on Recognizance 

This type of release also does not involve money. It is usually only offered to defendants without a previous criminal record who have not been accused of committing a violent crime. For this type of release, the defendant makes a promise to return for all scheduled court hearings.

Release on Unsecured Bond

This release is similar to cash bail, but rather than paying the bail amount upfront, the defendant must sign a bond agreement. If the defendant shows up for court, the defendant doesn’t have to pay anything; however, if the defendant fails to appear, the bond amount will be owed to the court in full, in addition to the normal penalties for not appearing in court.

Release on Nominal Bail

For this type of release, the bail may be set for an amount as low as $1. Alternatively, the court may accept property that is owned by the defendant as bail. The property must be worth at least 1.5 times the value of the bail amount. Violation of a bail agreement is a crime in Pennsylvania. This type of release relies upon the defendant’s desire to avoid being charged with an additional crime, rather than a monetary incentive.

Bail agreements are designed to ensure that persons accused of crimes who are released from jail before their trials show up for court hearings. Failing to appear in court can result in both the forfeiture of bail and additional criminal charges.