Bail bonds are a type of surety bond that is a guarantee of the entire bail amount for an accused person. This is to ensure that they are meeting the terms of their release from jail. For example they have to show up in court. If family and friends of the accused or the accused themselves cannot come up with the full bail amount, they can obtain a bail bond through a bail bondsman. The bail bondsman pays courts a ďblanket bondĒ which covers multiple people. Then they charge people paying for the bond a percentage, usually about 10% as a cash guarantee.
2. What type of bail bonds are there?
A series of contracts with a bail agent for the bail amount, this bond is a bail agentís guarantee to the court they will pay if an accused person fails to show up for court. The property and assets of a bail agent are used as the guarantee.
The bail is posted in cash and not assets. One must post for the full amount of the bond. This is seen as a strong incentive to appear in court. If they donít, they forfeit the money. Also a bench warrant will be issued for the arrest of the individual.
With this bond property is used to as the bond. The court will record a lien on the property for the amount of bail. In some cases the property value will need to be twice that of the bail amount. This bond is fairly uncommon and some states have banned this type of bond.
Release on Personal Recognizance
A person is released without paying any money. A person is still required to appear in court however there is no incentive to do so. If they donít show up a bench warrant is issued for their arrest. So to be eligible a court administrator will conduct an interview in order to make a recommendation to the court.
Unsecured Personal Bond
This is similar to Personal Recognizance however there will be a penalty if the accused person fails to appear. For example, if the unsecured bond is for $5,000 and if the person fails to appear they owe the court $5,000.
Secured Personal Bond
An accused person will post their bond directly to the court. In most cases, this bond will serve as a fine as part of the sentencing when the accused person is remanded to the court.
Pre-Trial Release Bonds
This allows an individual to be released prior to the trial and their case is assigned to an officer of a pre-release unit. However they do need to meet requirements to participate in the program. This may include office or home visit, verification on employment, and drug screening. If a person fails to appear a bench warrant is issued for arrest. If they are found guilty, they may receive a harsher penalty because of failing to appear.
If an individual fails to arrange bail prior to a specific date, they have a chance to have a judge review the bail. Most of the time a bail review is automatically set and sometimes it is in response to a motion filed by an attorney.
When a municipal court case is appealed, an attorney drafts a bail application for release pending a decision from an appellate court. With appeal bond, there must be a premium paid to a bond agent. Many bond agents require an appeal bond must be backed by cash collateral for the amount if the full bond. A person needs to give them a cashier's check, certificate of deposit, letter of credit, or cash for the full bail amount. If the verdict of the municipal court holds, the bond would be returned. If an individual fails to appear, then they forfeit the bail. The person would also be a fugitive from justice and subject to arrest and extradition.
These are also a guarantee of an appearance of an individual in court. These bonds are posted with an immigration or naturalization service instead of a jail. There is also a premium payment paid to a bondsman. A bondsman needs to have a causality insurance license in order to deal with immigration bonds. This type of bond will be immediately forfeited should the accused individual fail to appear in court. Some agents have had other difficulties take on these bonds which include language barriers and collecting collateral on the bond.
This is usually issued by an arresting officer. It gives the person the date that an they need to appear in court. It is on their honor to appear in court. Failure to do so will result in a bench warrant being issued for the personís arrest. With the citation release no money will need to be paid to be released. With this release a person in presumed innocent until otherwise proven guilty and protects their rights.
3. How does one go about obtaining a bail bond?
Family or friends will have to go to a licensed bail bondsman in order to obtain a bail bond. If the accused person is paying it themselves, some bondsmen are willing go with them. During initial consultation, bondsmen will collect basic information about the accused personís situation. This is to assess the risk to them involved with taking on the prospective bond. If the bail bond is purchased, paperwork has to be filled out. In most places bail bonds can be obtained 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Many Bondsmen are available on a ďon callĒ basis if they are away from the office.
4. What happens if I leave town or donít show up to court after posting a bail bond?
If an accused person leaves town or fails to make their court date after getting out they are in violation of the term of their release. A number of different things can happen. A bounty hunter might be called. They are hired by bail bondsmen to find and bring back people who fail to appear in court. Mainly the person who is paying for the bail bond will responsible for the entire amount of the bond. Also the premium and any collateral will be seized by the bond agency.
5. How much do bail bonds usually cost?
The cost is 10% of the bail amount. This is pretty standard from state to state. The bail amount can vary depending on what type of crime or crimes were committed. This fee is called the premium. In some cases the bail bondsman may also ask for collateral along with the premium. The premium payments are usually non-refundable. The collateral will be given back after the case is closed. There are bondsmen who have a variety of payment options set up so that accused individuals, families, or friends paying the bond will be able to pay the premium.
6. Are bail bonds available in all states?
No, several states have banned bail bonds. These states are Oregon, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois, Kentucky and Maine. A few of the states have a bond alternative set in place. In some places courts will directly accept a 10% cash bond. However a clerk in the court where the accused is being held should be contacted for more information about posting bail.