Bail vs Bond Jail: What’s the Difference?

A defendant waiting for bail

While defendants of smaller crimes may be released after arraignment, those that have committed more serious crimes will remain in jail until their court dates unless a bail or bond is posted. The bail amount depends on whether the defendant is a flight risk and whether they may commit additional crimes upon being released, though bail can also be denied altogether.

But what’s the difference between posting bond and posting bail, and what does it mean to do each? Let’s take a look at both.

Bail vs Bond for Jail

To make matters more confusing, bail and bond are often used interchangeably with regard to releasing someone from jail. While they’re certainly related, however, they’re not the same thing. Bail is the full amount that is required by the court to grant temporary freedom to the defendant until their court case. That’s different from a bail bond, which is posted on behalf of a defendant, most commonly by a bail bond company.

Both payments will secure release for the defendant from jail, but there are large differences between a bond vs bail. They’re both collateral used to guarantee the defendant’s appearance in court, and they can both be surrendered if the defendant doesn’t show. That said, if the payment is bail, the defendant or whoever paid the bail forfeits the money. If the payment is a bond, then the bail bond company will forfeit the money.

Bail Hearings

The first step in paying bail starts with the bail hearing. Once arrested, the defendant will have their bail set by a judge or an officer of the court, which can also include other conditions for their release from jail with a bail or bond. There are four main types of bail hearings, and each affects bail in some way.

  1. First up is what’s called a “release on own recognizance”. In this instance, the defendant is simply released from jail in exchange for promising to return to court. This is more common with nonviolent and lesser crimes or defendants that are low-flight risks.
  1. The second type of bail ruling is known as a personal bond. Also known as out on bond, the rules here are that the defendant must sign a bond confirming that they’ll be held accountable for criminal penalties if a court appearance is missed. 
  1. The third type of bail ruling is bail set with terms of release. By posting bail themselves or with the help of a bail bond company – also known as a surety bond – the defendant is able to leave jail until their court date.
  1. The last type of bail ruling is denial of bail. In this case, a judge or court officer has decided that the defendant is either too much of a flight risk or a threat to the public and that means spending their time in jail until arraignment and other court hearings.

How Do Bonds Work To Get Out of Jail?

According to the rules and regulations of bail bonds, a bond is needed to help most defendants meet the demands of bail. Since bail can be in the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, bail bond companies can help narrow the gap by posting the full amount for a down payment of about 10 percent. In this case, a $50,000 bail becomes a much more manageable $5,000 bond, and that, in a nutshell, is how bail vs bond works. Both get you out of jail, but with the help of a bail bond company, a defendant or their family will be on the hook for much less.

However, there is a trade-off for seeking the services of a bail bond company. If the defendant neglects to appear for court, the entire bail bond is forfeited, including any amount put down as collateral. The bail bond company will also start a search for the defendant so that they can be brought back to jail for the remainder of their case. Bail agencies typically have a lot of resources on call, and bounty hunters will likely bring you back to court – where you’ll face heavy charges for skipping out on an appearance. 
For more on bail vs bond and what it means for jail, contact the bail experts at My Bail Hotline. Our many locations in California are here for you and your family during this trying time. Contact us today!

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