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Understanding Criminal Procedure and Bail in Washington State

What is bail in King County?

Bail is a sum of money a defendant pays to be released from custody and remain in the community while their criminal matter is finalized. It is a form of pretrial release. This generally occurs right after arrest or after the first court date. 

Bail acts as a deposit to ensure a defendant attends their court hearings. A defendant posts bail by paying the required amount to the court. The court holds this money until the court hearing. 

If the defendant fails to attend a court date, they forfeit the money and may be sent back to jail. If a defendant complies with bail, the court returns their money at the end of their matter.

If you are facing criminal charges, it is important you have a defense attorney on your side who understands the law and who can help you fight to clear your name. Contact John T Law, PLLC by either calling (425) 533-2156 or filling out an online submission form today to schedule a Free Consultation. 

What is the difference between bail and bond in Washington State?

‘Bail' and ‘bond' are often used interchangeably. Both allow a defendant to be released from custody while their charges are pending. But there is an important distinction between them. 

A bond acts as a guarantee, rather than a deposit. It's a promise made to the court by a third party, usually a bond company, to pay the bail amount on the defendant's behalf if they fail to attend court or breach another condition of their release. In return, the defendant pays the bond company a service fee, usually around 10% of the bail amount.

Clients of John T Law, PLLC receive a BAIL DISCOUNT of 2% with my preferred bail bonds company and I ensure that you and your family are kept well informed every step of the way so you do not lose your money and remain out of custody.

How is King County bail decided?

Bail is decided by a judge in King County. A bail hearing usually occurs within 48 hours of a defendant being charged. 

When deciding bail, a judge will consider factors including:

  • the seriousness and circumstances of the allegations
  • the defendant's criminal history and their risk of reoffending
  • the defendant's flight risk, including their ties to the community

Although there are guidelines, a judge can set any amount of bail they see fit, as long as it's not objectively excessive.

Washington State Court Bail Rule CrR 3.2

If the court does not find, or a court has not previously found, probable cause, the accused shall be released without conditions.
(a) Presumption of Release in Noncapital Cases.
Any person, other than a person charged with a capital offense, shall at the preliminary appearance or reappearance pursuant to rule 3.2.1 or CrRLJ 3.2.1 be ordered released on the accused's personal recognizance pending trial unless:

(c) Relevant Factors—Future Appearance. In determining which conditions of release will reasonably assure the accused's appearance, the court shall, on the available information, consider the relevant facts including but not limited to:

(1) The accused's history of response to legal process, particularly court orders to personally appear;
(2) The accused's employment status and history, enrollment in an educational institution or training program, participation in a counseling or treatment program, performance of volunteer work in the community, participation in school or cultural activities or receipt of financial assistance from the government;
(3) The accused's family ties and relationships;
(4) The accused's reputation, character and mental condition;
(5) The length of the accused's residence in the community;
(6) The accused's criminal record;
(7) The willingness of responsible members of the community to vouch for the accused's reliability and assist the accused in complying with conditions of release;
(8) The nature of the charge, if relevant to the risk of nonappearance;
(9) Any other factors indicating the accused's ties to the community.

Possible outcomes of a bail hearing

The possible outcomes of a bail hearing are:

  1. the court releases the defendant without bail (on their personal recognizance - PR)
  2. the court grants the defendant bail, setting the amount the defendant is required to pay and any other conditions and allowing the defendant to use a bondsman to post bail. 
  3. the court denies bail and the defendant remains in custody until their court hearing

If a defendant is granted bail, they must comply with any conditions set by the court.

What happens if a defendant can't post bail?

If a defendant can't post bail, they will remain in custody until their court hearing. 

If a defendant cannot personally post bail, they may ask family or friends to help them. Alternatively, they can engage a bail bond company to post a bond on their behalf. 

What role does a defense attorney in King County play in bail?

When it comes to bail, the stakes couldn't be higher. If you are denied bail, you risk remaining in jail until your matter is heard and this is likely to take months. An experienced attorney can help you thoroughly prepare for your bail hearing to give you the best chance of release. That's why you need John T Law, PLLC on your side.

An attorney can offer you advice based on your circumstances, gather the relevant information needed for a bail hearing, and help you make arrangements if you're unable to personally post bail.

Call us today at (425) 533-2156 or fill out our online form to schedule a Free Consultation. If you need help posting bail I am happy to help.


King County: Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Issaquah, Sammamish, Bothell, Duvall, Woodinville, Mercer Island, Newcastle, Kent, Renton, Federal Way, Auburn, SeaTac, Kenmore, Tukwila, and more.
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