Bail bonds are designed for individuals (principal) who have been arrested and who cannot afford (or have the desire) to pay the full bail amount on their own.
This type of court surety bond allows the person (defendant/principal) to be released from jail by guaranteeing that the person will appear before the court (obligee) on the due date. If that person fails to show up in court, a bail bond company (surety) will pay the full amount of the bond, and this sum will be forfeited to the court.
For typical arrests for petty crimes, bail bonds will vary based on the location of the arrest. Wait times for release will differ if the defendant is being held at a local city jail within a police station or has been sent to a county jail.
Here, we address eight pressing questions that may answer how a bail bond works.
Do you need a collateral for a bail bond?
Usually, for most bail bonds, collateral is not required.
Bail collateral is taken in place of or in addition to bail money to secure the defendant’s release. It is a type of credit or loan to ensure that the person appears in court. Collateral can be a property, jewelry, automobile or any other valuable assets that are in a defendant’s or the bond indemnitor or cosigner’s name (the person who has signed the bond contract for the release of the accused).
Most often than not, bail collateral takes the form of real property. It usually involves the confiscation and sale of a person’s home if the court collects property-based bail collateral because of a defendant’s failure to appear in court. It may take weeks to obtain property bail and estate equity being sold must be at least 150% of what is owed to the court.
- What happens if you don’t pay the bail bonds company?
Whatever you agreed and signed to pay the bail bond company, you owe that amount to the bail bond company or agent. If you do not pay bail bonds, bail bond companies may sue you for the money owed. However, assuming that the criminal case is over, this is now a civil issue. In fact, a bail bond company can sue you in civil court.
Usually, if you have signed a bail bond agreement that includes a collateral, you may be secured by personal assets that have value. Once you have defaulted on your bond agreement, then the bail bond companies or agents would undertake ownership of the asset and acquire the value of it to counter the amount that you still owe them. They will pay back the difference if there is a surplus of the amount.
If you do not have secured a collateral in your agreement, they reserve the right to take you to court.
- What to do when you paid the bond, and they run?
Get the defendant back into custody. For example, in California, a bail bondsman has six months to find and bring back the defendant to court. If the defendant has not been caught in that timeframe, as the one who has signed the bond, you will also be held accountable for paying the full amount of the bond plus additional expenses and unpaid premiums.
If you have doubts about the defendant’s capacity to appear in court (due to behavior reasons or so) once they have been released from jail, it is better not to arrange bail for them.
- If you bail someone out of jail, do you get your money back?
No. A bail bondsman usually charges 10% of the bail amount. In fact, that percentage is the bondsman’s fee. However, collateral is returned once the criminal case is finalized.
- Do you get the bail money back if found guilty?
No. The money you pay to the bondsman (with the exception of collateral) is not refunded. This is how the bail bondsman makes their living.
- Do you get the bail money back if charges are dropped?
No. Same as the answer above.
- Can a cosigner revoke a bail bond?
No. The bail bondsman is the only party that can revoke a bond. In effect, a bail bondsman has the authority to apprehend and surrender the defendant anytime while the defendant is on bond if the defendant refuses to go to court.
If the bondsman has found evidence that the defendant may cause a forfeiture of the bail bond (based on a cosigner’s testimony), the bondsman’s best interest is to locate and surrender the defendant.
- What is the cost of a bail bond?
Your state location determines the cost for bail. Costs can range from 8% to 10% set by the courts. If a bail is set at $50,000 and the state requires the premium to be at 10%, then it will cost $5,000 for a bail bond.
Bail bond companies may request a collateral to serve as a financial guarantee. They do not offer discounts or reduced bail bond premiums.
Defendants can be released from jail immediately after posting bail. But if the defendant is indicted for a more serious crime, courts in some states have the right to deny bail and keep the defendant incarcerated until his or her official trial and hearings.