Cash Bond vs. Surety Bond

There may come a point in your life where you have to worry about getting yourself or a loved one out of jail. Sometimes this can be caused by a simple accident or a false arrest, but either way no one wants to have to wait for trial inside of a jail cell.

 Once a judge sets a bond amount for a defendant it is possible to secure their release, by either paying the entire amount up front (cash bond) or contacting a bail bondsman to put the money up (surety bond). There is a huge difference between these two methods, and everyone should know what they are before deciding to post bond.

Initial Payment

The initial amount that needs to be paid to secure someone’s bond differs greatly between a cash bond and a surety bond. If an individual decides to bail someone out with a cash bond, they will have to provide the entire face amount of bail demanded by the court before an inmate can leave. For instance, if a judge sets a defendant’s bail at $50,000, the entire amount must be paid up front, and then the inmate will be released. This money is then held as collateral until the completion of trial. 

A surety bond works differently and is the more usual road taken to bailing someone out of jail. Most people do not have the available funds to post a cash bond – and even if they do, there is no telling how long their money will be held up before the case is over. A bail bondsman can provide a surety bond to have the inmate released, for a mere fee of ten percent of the total bail amount. So in the case of a $50,000 bond, whomever is signing the bond must pay $5,000 up front. This fee is non-refundable once the bond has been posted, but no other money has to be exchanged or kept in limbo during the course of the trial.

What are the Risks?

There are inherent risks in securing someone’s bond. There is always the chance that a defendant may decide to go on the run, and not return to court. Unfortunately the risk of this is almost identical between cash bonds and surety bonds. If an inmate goes on the lam, and never returns, then the person who signed off on the bail bond is liable for the full bond amount. If a cash bond was put forward the courts will forfeit bail and keep this money.

If a surety bond was posted and the defendant takes flight, then the bail bondsman’s first course of action is to locate the defendant and bring them back in front of the judge; accomplished with either the help of the co-signer, or the employment of a fugitive recovery agent (aka bounty hunter).  If unsuccessful, the bail agent may sue for the bond amount or take whatever collateral an indemnitor (co-signer of a bond) provided to reimburse them for their lost bond.

Bounty hunters are trained professionals, so they have a far better chance of getting someone back into custody than a normal citizen. If a bail bondsman takes this action, the indemnitor is liable for the cost but if the bounty hunter is successful in bringing the defendant back to justice then that may be all the indemnitor is liable for. Since bounty hunters have a far better chance of tracking down a fugitive who doesn’t want to be caught, a surety bond provides additional security when signing off on someone’s bond.

There are stark contrasts between cash bonds and security bonds. The choice of which bond to secure is really a personal one. If a person has enough money to secure a cash bond, will not suffer by that bond being held for an extended amount of time, and trusts the person they are providing bond for then a cash bond is certainly an alternative. For most people, surety bonds are a safer and cheaper course of action; statistically speaking, higher fines and court fees are assessed with cash bail since there is an inherent “ability to pay” assumed.

11 thoughts on “Cash Bond vs. Surety Bond

  1. The primary advantage of a surety bond is that the defendant does not have to come up with enough cash to cover the entire bail bond. He simply pays a small percentage to the bond company and may get part of this payment back. If he shows up for court, he has no cash at risk for things like back child support payments or taxes.

  2. Cash bonds are relatively simple and easy to understand. The defendant simply puts up the cash and gets released pending the trial. He gets the majority of his money back afterward, less minor court costs and fees. There is no need to contact a surety company or attempt to qualify for a bond.

  3. Looking for assistance in Marion, Illinois which is Williamson County. A family member has been wrongly accused, and the girl who started all of this admitted she was lying, they’ve dropped there chargers, but because when they approached him in bed to arrest him they came in blazing and he was confused and resisted arrest and was swinging his arms, one connected w a police officer. So, aggregated battery upon a peace officer, plus what they came in to arrest him for. Illinois does not allow bail bondsman. I’m trying to find out what I can do to get assistance in helping with his 10%, $5,000.00 bond. I don’t completely understand the surety bond. Can someone plz email me @ Explain what I need to do or give me some advice. I’d like to talk about some of the charges and how they can have two nearly the same that absolutely contradict themselves. I just don’t understand and I want to help his son.

  4. Hello
    I bailed my brother out on a 20,000 surety bond and had to have 3 co-signers and 3,500 cash. This took place on Sunday. It is now Tuesday and the DA is questioning where the money came from. My husband and I have on the book jobs and bank accounts and my uncle collects a pension. All of which I might add equals more then $1,000 a month in each account. Although it does not show all of the money was withdrawn from our accounts there is proof that it could have been. How do I get around this? The bails bond and lawyer are no help any advice

    1. Tell the DA that $3500 isn’t a lot of money for a person to have saved up over the course of their working life. Tell him you’ve been saving $100 month for a few years and keeping it in cash locked up somewhere in case of an emergency.

  5. I paid cash to a bonding company, because the court was closed at night, and they posted a surety bond to get my husband out of jail. Two separate bonds were done for two cases, and now that the one case is completed and done,the bond company says they wont return my money until BOTH cases are completed. And I cannot get an exoneration from the judge because she says they never received the money from the court where the bonds were originally paid, even though I have a receipt that shows it was paid. What can I do to get my money on the case that is completed?

  6. So my brother have a bond amount of 7500 cash / surety. Then another line said 15000 cash/surety then down another line again is $0 cash only what does that mean?

  7. 8 years ago a friend posted 40,000p cash bond. the case was finished 4 years ago and just yesterday the court sys. in Manila said she could pick up her court paper in manila to file in Tagbilaran Bohol for her 40k cash bond… (Why not LBC the paper) she has to spend 5,000p to go get the paper). 8 years her money was held and 4+ years after the case was finished… does the courts owe interest since these cash bonds are deposited in a bank account? 8 years 40,000.00 cash…?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Branch Office
  • Open 24 Hours