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How Jail Bonds Work

Bail Bonds

When a defendant is arrested and booked into a holding facility, whether it is federal, state or a county facility, the arresting facility reviews the current charges and looks to see if the defendant has any prior charges. A jail bond is set based in part on the severity of the charges, whether the defendant is a repeat offender, or the number of past charges against him. This information is also used in selecting the type of jail bonds.

Depending on the circumstances, a jail bond may not be set. The holding facility may release the defendant on his own recognizance or they may not set a bond at all. If the crime is severe enough or if the defendant is deemed a threat to himself or society, no jail bonds will be set and the defendant must wait in jail until his scheduled court date to find out if the court changes its mind regarding bail.

Jail bonds may be a cash bond, surety bond or property bond. If a cash bond is set, the defendant or a third party must pay the jail bail in the full amount. If the bond is a surety bond, the third party contacts a bondsman. The bondsman will require specific information regarding the defendant including but not limited to the defendant’s full legal name, social security number, current charges against him, where he is being held and in what type of facility he is being held. If the bondsman decides to take the risk, he will meet with the third party (usually a family member or close friend).

A contract is signed by the family member or friend and the bondsman guaranteeing the appearance of the defendant at all scheduled court hearings. The family member or friend is now a cosigner on the bond and is responsible for the entire bond should the defendant skip bail. The cosigner pays the premium on the surety bond. The premium is usually 10 percent of the entire bond, but may be more or less depending on the circumstances and the county, state or bondsman.

If the defendant skips bail, the surety company pays the full amount of the bail to the court and collects the money from the bondsman. The bondsman in turn collects the money from the cosigner.

Property bonds are jail bonds that are guaranteed with property worth at least the same as the jail bail or more. A lien is placed on the property. When the defendant completes all the requirements, the lien is removed from the property. If the defendant skips out and cannot be re-apprehended, the bondsman will start foreclosure proceedings on the property in order to recover his costs.

If a defendant skips bail, but is re-apprehended prior to the state’s apprehension date (some states only give three days, some states give the bondsman up to a year to re-apprehend the defendant), any fees incurred in locating and re-apprehending the defendant will be collected from the cosigner.

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