The Difference Between Bail and Bail Bonds

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The Difference Between Bail and Bail Bonds

Frequently, people interchange the words “bail” and “bail bonds.” To the judicial system, both words are very important in the process of releasing the accused from jail, but they represent different meanings.

What is Bail?

Upon the arrest of a defendant, most will be allowed to post bail. Bail will be set based on the type of crime and threat to society. The defendant or a guarantor, pays the court in order to secure his or her release. The detainee will be granted release from incarceration once all monies have cleared, or “posted,” with the understanding that they will be legally obligated to attend all future court hearings in which they were involved. Bail money acts as a transaction to ensure security; therefore, in the event that the detainee fails to appear in court at their scheduled time, the court will keep all monies, if necessary. If they do hold their end of the agreement, defendants can receive the returned bail money upon completion of all criminal proceedings, regardless of the outcome.

What is a Bail Bond?

In the event that a defendant cannot or does not want pay the total amount of bail, a bail bondsman can be utilized for a “bail bond”. In exchange for a non-refundable fee (generally 10% of the total bail), a bail bondsman will guarantee the defendant’s appearance in court. The bondsman does not give cash or collateral to the court, but instead provides the court or jail a Bail Bond: “surety bond,” a paper document guaranteeing the defendant will go to court or the bondsman will make sure the full bail amount is paid to the court. No bondsman wants to pay out on a bond. Thus, the bondsman has a significant financial incentive to make sure the defendant goes to court.

 Bail and bail bonds work as security for the defendant, the judicial system and society. Bail allows the defendant to be released from jail and gives him or her time to hire a lawyer, plan their defense and continue with home and work responsibilities. It allows the accused freedom from being contained during the waiting period before trial occurs. In the judicial sense, bail serves as collateral for ensuring the defendants appearance in court. Via a bail bond, a bondsman provides an additional line of responsibility between the court and the defendant.

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