What Is Bail?

Bail is a sum of money, real property, or a surety bond promised to the court to guarantee a arrested person’s (defendant’s) appearance in court when their case comes to trial. The right to reasonable bail is guaranteed by the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

What Is a Bail Bond?

A bail bond is a financial guarantee made by or on behalf of a criminal defendant that is used to guarantee their appearance in court through the end of their trial upon release from custody. Failure by the defendant to appear will result in a bond forfeiture.

How Do Bail Bonds?

Under state law, a surety company (bail bond agency) can provide a type of insurance policy or “bond” that guarantees payment of the full bail amount to the court if the defendant does not show up for all scheduled court appearances. These bonds are offered by licensed bail bond agencies. Bail bond agencies charge a premium – a percentage of the total bail amount — plus any additional fees that occur, such as court costs, to the defendant or the person who signs the bond on their behalf.

What Is the Difference Between a Bail Bond and a Bail Premium?

A bail bond amount represents the full amount of bail set by the court. The premium is the payment made to the bail agency by the defendant or guarantor for posting the bond, typically about 10% of the original bail cost.

Who Is the Indemnitor/Guarantor?

An indemnitor/guarantor is the person(s) willing to be responsible for the defendant (the person in jail) while they are out on bail. That person assumes financial liability for the full amount of the bail bond if the defendant does not appear for court.

What Is Bail Bond Exoneration?

A bail bond is “exonerated” when the legal process or trial is ended and the defendant has been to court. Then, the bail amount is discharged, which means you don’t have to pay it anymore. However, any unpaid premium to the bond agency, plus fees or charges incurred by the bail agency on your behalf, is still owed to the bond agency.

What Is Bail Bond Forfeiture?

Bail bond forfeiture occurs when the defendant fails to make their court appearance on time. Then, the full bail becomes due. A bench warrant is issued by the court for the the defendant’s re-arrest. The court may decide to give the defendant time to return to custody and re-activate the bail bond before it is required to be paid in full, or the court may require arrest and detainment in jail this time.

What Is a Re-Entry Statement?

Sometimes a defendant with a bail bond forfeiture can have the bench warrant removed and the bail bond re-activated (reinstated) with the court. This is a legal proceeding requiring an attorney. It will result in more charges to the bail bond agency, which will be charged back to the defendant and their guarantors.

Do I Get my Bail Money Back?

If the guarantor posted the full bail with the court without the assistance of a bail bond agency, and the defendant appeared at all required court dates, then yes.

If the guarantor hired a bail bond agency to post bond, then no, because the agency has assumed initial liability for the full bail instead of the guarantor. An “insurance”-type premium to the bond agency is not refundable.

If the guarantor paid the bond agency a premium and the defendant misses the court dates, then the full amount of bail becomes due. The court will take it from the bail bond agency’s bond account. In turn, the agency will demand it from the defendant and guarantors.

What Is the Advantage of a Bail Bond Agent?

Most people do not have enough money to post full bail. The bondsman makes it affordable, so they need only pay a small percentage of the bail to get the defendant released.

The bondsman has already-established lines of credit with certain court systems, making posting bail swift and easy. The bondsman then continues to help the defendant every step of the way to trial, helping to explain the complicated legal proceedings.