An In-Depth Guide To Getting A Bail Bond

Finance & Money Articles

If you or a loved one gets arrested for a crime, it could be weeks, months or even years before the case goes to trial. In most cases, a bail amount is usually set to allow the defendant's conditional release until the next court date. The following explains how bail bonds work and the consequences of forfeiting a bond.

Getting a Cash Bond

One option for posting bail involves the use of a cash bond, where the person posting bail pays for the entire bail amount in cash, in addition to any fees imposed by the arresting jurisdiction. In most cases, the bond can be paid at the cashier window of the arresting jurisdiction's jail or detention facility. Once the full bail amount has been paid, the cash bond will remain in a trust account until the case is concluded.

In many jurisdictions, the cash bond is returned to the person who initially paid the bond as long as the defendant makes all of his or her court appearances. In others, the cash bond amount may be used to pay for fines and/or court costs. Anything that's left over afterwards may be refunded back to you, usually in the form of a check for the refunded amount. In most cases, it could take several weeks for your refund to be mailed back to you. For this reason, anyone posting a cash bond shouldn't count on the total amount being refunded.

If you're having a cash bond paid on your behalf using your own funds, you should have the bond paid for and the receipt made in your name. This way, you can be sure the money, minus fines and fees, returns directly to you at the conclusion of your case.

Getting a Surety Bond

A surety bond is another option for posting bail, as it offers an alternative for those who are unable to pay the full amount of a cash bond. With a surety bond, a licensed bail bondsman pays the entire bail amount on the defendant's behalf. In exchange, the person who'd otherwise pay the entire bail amount instead pays a percentage (usually 10 percent) of the total bail amount including any fees imposed by the arresting jurisdiction.

Unlike a cash bond, the percentage paid to the bail bondsman is non-refundable, since it's paid directly to the bondsman who uses it to cover his or her costs. Surety bonds also require a cosigner, who is then made responsible for any additional costs in the event the defendant fails to appear in court. The cosigner may also have to put up some form of collateral, such as a home or a vehicle, to guarantee the loan.

What Happens If the Bond is Forfeited

If the defendant fails to make his or her court appearances, the bail bond immediately becomes at risk of being forfeited. Once the presiding judge issues a warrant for the defendant's arrest, whoever paid the cash bond runs the risk of losing that money unless the defendant is found and placed back in court custody within a statutory period of time, which could range from 90 to 180 days depending on your state's statutes. If the defendant is returned to custody, the person who paid for the cash bond can request for the money to be refunded.

The risk is even greater for a bail bondsman. If the defendant isn't found within the statutory period, the bondsman could lose the entire bond amount. To prevent this from happening, the bondsman may enlist the services of a bounty hunter or bail recovery agent to track down and return the defendant into custody. In addition, the bondsman can also pursue legal action against the cosigner to recover his or her damages. The cosigner also stands to lose any collateral that was put up to secure the bond. If you want to learn more about bail bonds, why not try here?


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