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What is a Bail Bond?

Bail Bonds

A bail bond is a guarantee that the arrested defendant will appear in court for scheduled court hearings. When a defendant is arrested, bail is set. The bail may be a cash bond, a surety bond, or a property bond. A defendant may also be released on his own recognizance or he may be cited out. If a defendant is released on his own recognizance or cited out, there is no bail bond. The defendant has been determined to not be a flight risk, among other things, and is trusted to appear at any scheduled court dates on his own.

If a cash bail bond is issued, the defendant or a family member or friend must pay the entire amount of the bond in order to be released. The cash bond, minus any court fees, is returned to the payor upon the defendant’s completion of his case.

The most common bail bond is a surety bail bond. If a surety bond is issued, an insurance company (or a bondsman with enough capital) becomes involved in the transaction. The defendant (or a family member or friend, on the defendant’s behalf) contacts a bondsman. He pays the bondsman a percentage of the bond (commonly 10 percent). The insurance company or the bondsman, if he has the cash to back up the transaction puts up the rest of the money. When the defendant’s case is completed, the money is returned to the surety company or the bondsman. Any amounts that are paid up front are generally non-refundable to the defendant.

If a high bail is placed on the defendant, he may have to get a property bail bond. Property is offered as collateral for the bail. The property must be worth at least the amount of the bail, if not more. A lien is placed on the property so that if the defendant does not show up in court at the appointed time, the bondsman or the surety company will start foreclosure proceedings on the collateral property. With a property bail bond, if the defendant completes all scheduled court dates, the lien is removed from the property.

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