Bail bonds are one of those things you don’t want to think about until you have to. However, knowing some basics beforehand is one of the best ways to speed up the process to ensure your friend or family member is out of jail quick. Below, we will discuss some fundamentals of bail bonds to get you started.
New to the bail process? No worries! Bail Hotline will answer questions you might not have even asked so you get a better idea of how bail bonds work.
Bail bonds are a necessity if a friend or family member gets arrested. But why, exactly, do they exist? We will answer this question on this page and hopefully give you a better idea of why bail bonds are a necessity.
What happens when you post bail? What are the side-effects if a defendant skips a court date? We will discuss these questions in detail throughout this post, though the most important thing to know is that bonds work best when a defendant shows up to court. If not, the defendant and the person who signed the bond could be in for some serious trouble.
Here are some need-to-know tips for defendants and friends/family members of defendants in need of a bail bond:
“Bail” vs. “Bonds”
Though they are used for the same reason, there is a big difference between bailing someone out of jail and getting a bond. Bail is cash, or when a person pays the court directly. A bond, or “surety” bond, is when your friends or family members use a third party (i.e. a bondsman) to front the money for bail.
If you’re ever in a situation that calls for bail, it’s time to do some research. This is because bail bonds are complicated and can vary based on the crime, your record, and several other factors. To help get you started, Bail Hotline has thrown together a crash course in bail bonds that covers all the need-to-know info.
Bail Bond Classifications
If you are arrested and charged with a criminal offense, bail can literally be your “get out of jail card.” Obviously it isn’t free, but it does represent hope to secure at least your temporary freedom. Going home to your family and your job, until your court date arrives, can help your defense and of course your financial position.
There are several types of bail that a judge can set, depending on a few different factors: the nature and circumstances of the offense, your family ties to the community, your financial condition, length of residence, your prior criminal history, character, and mental condition.
Cash Bond – This means the court requires the total amount of bail to be paid in cash; typically ordered if you are considered a flight risk, have failed to appear for prior hearings or a warrant was issued for unpaid fines.
Surety Bond – A third party (friend, business associate or family member) agrees to be responsible for your debt of obligation. Generally this service is provided by bail agents, who are paid a nonrefundable premium of 10% of the bail amount (surety on the bond). A bail bondsman gives a guarantee to the court, assuring they will cover the forfeited bail amount if you fail to appear.
Property Bond – You or your third party pledges real property, which must have a value of at least the amount of the bail; more usually it must be twice the amount set. If you fail to appear the state can levy the property or file a foreclosure against it to recover the bail amount.
Combo Bail + Conditions – At times the court will combine a bail with specific conditions; requiring a cash or surety bond plus additional conditions to make certain the community isn’t put at risk, or to better assure you appear for your court date. This can also include a protective order. Conditions may require you to surrender a passport and any firearms, make mandatory phone calls to your police station, submit to electronic monitoring or house arrest, drug or alcohol testing or counseling.
Order of Protection – The court requires you to refrain from contact with the victim in your case, and from any criminal actions against them. If this order is ignored you could automatically lose your posted bail and be subject to harsher fines or additional prison time.
Immigration Bond – This is a federal bond used if you are arrested and are an illegal alien. You will deal directly with the DHS (Dept. of Homeland Security) or the ICE (Bureau of Immigration & Custom Enforcement. This specialty bond premium is usually 15-20% of the bond amount and the application process can be longer.
Federal Bond – More work is involved as well as more risk for the bail agent, so your premium will be 15% and the bail is generally going to be a lot higher. Collateral will be required to cover the rest of the bond, but in this case you must attend a Nebbia (or bail sufficiency) hearing; essentially you or your family must prove the collateral and bond cash is from a legitimate source and not derived from criminal activity.
Released on recognizance (OR) – An unsecured bond wherein you will promise to appear at all judicial proceedings and not take part in any illegal activities or other restricted conduct the court deems inappropriate. Usually a dollar amount is still set but not paid unless the court orders that it be forfeited.
Cite Out or Citation Release – The arresting officer issues a citation to you when you arrested, ordering you to appear at a specific court date and time. These require no payment of security and usually are given out as soon as you are arrested.