The Difference Between Bail and a Bond
Many people are confused by the terms bail and bond. Bail is the amount required to get a person out of jail prior to their court date. Bail is posted in cash unless the court allows the defendant to post a “bond”. A bond is a legal agreement between the defendant, a co-signer, the courts, the bail bond agency, and the insurance company that states the defendant agrees to appear in court if the bail bond agency puts up the money to cover the bond. In order for the contract to be completed and secured, the co-signer must pay a state-mandated premium (normally 10% of the total bail amount) as a good faith gesture that the defendant will comply with the court's requirements.
Steps in the Process
There are several steps in the bail bonds process. After the initial arrest, the first step is contacting a bail bonds agency and finding out what needs to be done to complete the process. Filling out the application takes approximately 30 minutes and can be completed over the phone, through emails, or via fax. It can also be completed in person. The next step is securing the bond with the 10% state-mandated premium. It is non-negotiable, non-refundable and must be paid before the contract can be submitted. Payment can be in the form of cash, check, credit/debit card, money order, or personal property that has verifiable value. Once the bond has been secured, the bail bonds agent will go to the jail and post the bond.
What Happens if You Jump Bail
Jumping bail is serious business. Not only will a bench warrant be issued for your arrest, but if you are not returned to custody in less than 30 days, your co-signer will be responsible for the entire bond amount, including any other fees that may be issued by the court. Once the bond has been forfeited, the entire amount becomes due and owing immediately and legal measures will be taken to collect it if necessary.
Fulfilling Your Obligations
Once you have been released on bond you have several obligations to fulfill. First and foremost is attending each and every court hearing scheduled in your case. If you miss one, immediately call the court and have it rescheduled so a bench warrant will not be issued. It is important that you remain in contact with your bail bond agent, notifying them of any changes in your personal information. You must also comply with any stipulations the court includes as part of your conditional release. This can mean attending drug and alcohol counseling, anger management, complying with a restraining order, and not get into any further trouble while this case is pending. You may also be asked to take random drug screens.
Getting Your Money Back
When cash bail or a bond has been posted, you will be able to get some of the money back once the case been closed. Although the money posted for the bond premium is non-refundable, any amount over and above that will be returned to you once the defendant has fulfilled their legal obligations to the court. The same is true for the cash bail. If any court fees, restitution or other fines are owed, it will be taken out and whatever is left will be returned to you. This process can take anywhere from 14 to 60 days, depending on the court and how busy they are. Another way that you can get your money back is if the bond is revoked. When a person's bond is revoked, the defendant must be returned to jail and bond is considered void. The co-signer can choose to revoke the bond or the court can if the defendant has not remained in compliance with the stipulations of the bond.