How Bail Bonds Work
What Is Bail?
Bail is a set amount of money that acts as an insurance contract between the person in jail (defendant) and the court.
Defendants must either remain in jail until they must appear in court or they can also pay their bail amount and be released. Once the defendant appears in court and also completes all requirements for the case, their bail amount is returned to them.
Since bail is often set at a high amount (thousands of dollars), most defendants and families cannot post bail on their own. They must seek help from a bail bondsman, who posts the bail bond for them.
What is a Bail Bond?
A bail bond is a type of surety bond. This surety bond is provided by a surety bond company through a bail bondsman serving as a representative.
The bail bond is posted at the jail for the bail amount and the defendant can then be released.
How do Bail Bonds Work?
A judge sets a bail amount for the defendant. If the defendant cannot pay the bail amount on their own, they must seek help from a bail bondsman in the form of a bail bond.
To post a bail bond, the defendant will need to identify a co-signer for the bail bond. The co-signer/defendant are required to pay a premium charge to the bail bondsman, usually 5-15% of the bail amount depending on the case. The bail bondsman may also need to collect collateral in some cases (house, jewelry, stocks, etc.).
Once paid, the bail bondsman will post the bail bond for the defendant and they will be released from jail. This is done with the expectation that the defendant will appear for ALL set court dates. What happens next is dependent on if the defendant appears in court.
If the defendant fails to appear in court: The bail bondsman has 120 days to pay the full bail amount or locate and return the defendant to jail to remain there until the conclusion of the court case. Should the defendant maliciously skip court, they will likely be bounty hunted, returned to court and have their bond revoked. If it was an accident the bail bondsman can usually extend the bail bond. This is done through consent surety and will keep the individual out of jail until their rescheduled court date.
Usually, the co-signer signs a contract making them liable by wage garnishment for the full bail amount should the defendant skip court. Should a co-signer harbor or aid the fugitive of justice or also obstruct the work of the bail bondsman in anyway the bail bondsman is likely to sue the co-signer for the full bail amount.
If the defendant does appear for all court dates: Upon conclusion of the case, the Bail Bond will be released from the court system. The bail bondsman and co-signer are no longer liable for the full bail amount and collateral is returned.