Understanding Alabama’s Bond Process

Innocent until proven guilty is a staple of American society. Even if social stigmas tend to swing towards guilt even when there is no conviction, the legal system must still abide by this principle. That’s why we have bonds – a means to allow someone charged with a crime or crimes to live free with conditions until their case is settled.

Some states are making changes to the way these systems work which is why it’s important to stay up-to-date on how Alabama’s system operates. Should you be charged with a crime, the content of this article will be of utmost importance to you until you are either convicted or found not guilty and free to go.

What bond options are there?

In Alabama, the court has a few options to choose from when you’re charged but not convicted of a crime. These options are:


  • Releasing you on your own recognizance: This applies when the court doesn’t have a reason to believe you are a danger to the public or that you will attempt to flee.
  • Releasing you on bond: The court will consider a number of factors (we’ll address those below) to determine whether or not releasing you should come with a price that can include monetary or proprietary interest.
  • Holding you in jail during the trial: If court officials believe you pose a danger to the public or are likely to flee the trial then they can and will keep you behind bars throughout the duration of the trial. Your attorney should fight to prevent this ruling.


If you are given a bond then the court will outline specific terms and conditions that must be met in order for you to be released and to stay out of jail during the trial. Cash bonds are the most common which are a dollar amount that must be paid before you can be released from jail (a bail bondsman could allow you to pay a lower amount – think 10/15% – and secure your release). The court may also release you without requiring an upfront payment but order that you be required to pay a certain amount should you miss any upcoming trial dates.

What factors will the court consider?

Whether or not you are given a bond depends on numerous factors. Any or all of the following may be factored into the final decision:

  • Age, background, family ties, relationships, and circumstances of the defendant
  • Reputation, character, and health
  • Prior criminal record
  • Identity of those who vouch for the defendant
  • Violence or lack of violence in the alleged offenses
  • Nature of the offense and likelihood of a conviction
  • Presence or absence of weapons used in the offense
  • Any potential threats to the victims and/or witnesses
  • Value of property taken during the offense if applicable
  • Whether the property taken was recovered or damages if applicable
  • Residential status
  • Evidence of selling or pushing drug activity if applicable
  • Employment status and history
  • Any enhancement statutes related to the offense(s)

Once these factors are considered and the decision is issued, the courts will follow Alabama’s “bail schedule” to determine how much you should have to pay in order to receive a release order. This could be an exorbitant amount if you are accused of a serious/violent crime and/or have shown a desire to flee the court.

Our team will fight to preserve your freedom – whether it’s during your trial or after your trial. The bond system can be difficult, especially for those who come from low means. Contact John M. Totten today to get the best defense in Alabama.

John M. Totten