Do you know how bonds work? If not, it’s a good time to learn.
Maybe you’re researching bail bonds because you’re looking for services – or you’re just curious. There are as many criminal convictions as there are college degrees in the U.S., so the chances of needing a jail bond for someone you know (or yourself) at some point are high. Are you prepared when the time comes?
Understanding how bonds work is a good first step to knowing how to handle these situations. In this guide, we’ll answer your frequently asked questions about bonds. Keep reading for the knowledge you need!
1. What is Bail?
Bail is a part of the legal system used to make sure a person gets released from jail while they’re waiting for trial. The court will set the bail amount, which is generally based on how severe the crime was.
For the accused individual to get out of jail, they have to pay the bail. There are two ways to pay – cash bail or a bond. This money helps to ensure that the person will appear for their court date. It typically is set as more money than a person can put up in cash, so a bail bondsman helps by giving a bond to get the person out of jail.
2. How Do Bail Bonds Work?
The court sets the amount necessary for the person to get out of jail. If you can’t put up cash bail and need to use a bond, the bond service gets you out of jail by guaranteeing that the whole bail amount gets paid if the person doesn’t appear for their court date.
A Bail bondsman must have a license to provide these services. They also charge a fee for their help in getting you out of jail. This fee is generally a percentage of the bail amount – 15 percent is a common fee. The fee isn’t refundable, even after the trial’s over. It makes sure bail bondsmen get paid for their services.
3. Who is a Guarantor or Co-Signer?
The guarantor or co-signer assumes responsibility for the defendant as they wait for their case to go to trial. This person also takes on financial responsibility for the amount of the bail. If the defendant that they’re a guarantor for flees instead of showing up in court, they are responsible for the full amount of the bail.
4. What is Exoneration?
Once the legal proceedings or the trial are completely over, the bail bond gets exonerated. This happens whether the state dismisses the case or the trial results in a guilty or innocent verdict.
The bond gets discharged no matter what. However, this doesn’t mean that the outstanding payments to the bondsman are also discharged. If there are current unpaid payments or fees, they still get paid.
5. What are Forfeiture and Reinstatement?
When the defendant doesn’t appear in court, that’s forfeiture. If someone is out on bond and they don’t come to their court date or miss other court obligations, there might be a warrant put out for their arrest.
However, the forfeited bond is sometimes reinstated it the defendant follows correct procedures to work with the court and their bondsman. When the bond gets reinstated, a new court date is set. The defendant will forfeit the bond again if they also miss that date.
With each forfeiture, additional fees might also get added for payment to the bondsman.
6. What are Bond Conditions?
When working with a bondsman, a defendant agrees to certain terms or bond conditions. The first and primary condition is that the defendant appears at all court hearings.
Other conditions might be that the defendant doesn’t commit any other crimes during the process or that they don’t leave the state while out on bail. In some cases, there might be a mandatory restraining order preventing the defendant from contacting witnesses or other people involved in the case.
If there’s a change of mailing address or residence, another condition may be that the defendant has to notify the court.
7. What is Collateral?
Collateral is the deposit of property or money to prevent the bail bondsman from losing money if the defendant forfeits their bond.
The defendant, their family, or their friends can put up the collateral. When collateral switches parties, there is a written contract signed by both parties and a receipt provided by the bail bondsman. This collateral can pay for forfeitures or the cost of getting a missing defendant back into custody.
If the collateral needs storage in a public facility, the defendant or guarantor can get charged for these storage fees. However, these fees have to be fully explained to you during contract negotiation. Otherwise, you aren’t responsible for paying them.
8. Do Bail Bondsman Take Credit?
Many bail bondsmen accept credit cards as a form of payment. This is a great help to people who don’t have the cash available to pay for their services.
9. Does a Posted Bond Always Mean Release From Jail?
On some occasions, a bond might be posted, but the defendant may not be able to get out of jail. The law enforcement agency or the court may have a different hold on the victim not covered by the bail amount.
If this is the case, the court is in charge of deciding whether to refund the bond.
Now You Know How Bonds Work – Here’s What’s Next
Knowing how bonds work is a great help if you find yourself in a situation where you need to post bail. The system can seem complicated and hard to navigate, which is why it’s so important to have a good bail bondsman on your side.