When an individual is charged with a crime and appears before the court, the court will set bail as a condition of their release. Bail is money, or occasionally property, that is deposited with the court in return for the release of the accused from custody. If the accused does not return to court for their next hearing, bail is forfeited. There are two ways of posting bail in Minnesota: with cash or through the use of a surety known as a bondsman. If someone who is accused posts a cash bail, they are using their own money. If the accused uses a bondsman, the bondsman acts as a surety who posts a bond on behalf of the accused. The Minnesota Constitution requires the court to give both options.
It should be noted that cash bail becomes the property of the accused regardless of who actually posted the bail. For instance, if an employer posts cash bail on behalf of an employee the cash bail will be returned to the employee and not the employer.
Whether posting cash bail or a bail bond, the court will provide conditions of release. Typical conditions of release include no contact with victim(s) and restrictions on travel. However, the Minnesota Rules of Criminal Procedure require the court to set a ‘money only bail.’ This is an unconditional bail amount meaning there would be no conditions of release from custody. While an unconditional bail sounds more appealing, the bail amount is typically much higher.
The Minnesota Constitution prohibits “excessive” bail. Excessive bail is any amount that is higher than reasonably necessary to ensure the accused’s appearance in court, stand trial and submit to sentencing if found guilty.
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