Bail vs Bond
You have no doubt seen the following scene a few dozen times on television or in the movies; a judge bangs the gavel and states “Bail set” followed by a large sum of money to the average person. Yet in the next scene the defendant is release from police custody and waiting for their trial to begin. How did they afford the money to make bail? The answer for most people is a bail bondsman.
What is Bail?
Bail is the amount of money a defendant must pay the court to secure their release from police custody. After a defendant is arrested and in police custody a bail hearing is set. A judge determines the amount of the bail along with any other conditions for the defendant’s release. A few factors will be used to determine the amount of bail.
- The defendant’s criminal history.
- Will the defendant commit further crimes?
- The nature of the crime committed.
- Is the defendant a flight risk?
- The defendant’s ties to the community.
The amount of bail set could be $1,000 or more than $100,000. If a defendant can pay the bail amount set by the judge with cash, then he is considered “bailed out”. The money is returned to the defendant if they show up for their trail date.
Bail is not intended to be a punishment but rather to ensure that the defendant once released from police custody they will return to court on their trail date which could be 6 or months away. Bail is however often set in amounts beyond the financial capabilities of the average person. This is where a bond comes in.
What is Bond?
Bond is used to obtain the release from jail of a defendant required to pay bail. A bond is paid by a bail bondsman. The defendant signs a bond contract with a bail bondsman who vouches for the defendant a surety or promise, that the defendant will show up in court on the trial date.
The bail bondsman charges the defendant a nonrefundable fee, typically 15% of the bail set by the judge. Many times, the contract terms allow the defendant to pay a down payment on this percentage and make payment arrangements for the remaining much like loan. The bail bondsman contract terms may also require collateral much like a loan company.
- The defendant’s bail is set of $10,000
- The bail bondsman charges 15%
- The bail bond fee is $1,000
- The down payment is 20%
- The defendant pays $200
- The defendant makes payments of $200 for 4 months
The money to make bail is paid by the bail bondsman who pays the court in part and guarantees that if the defendant does not show up to court for the trial the bail bondsman will pay the remaining amount of the bail. A defendant released from police custody by bond is considered “bonded out”.
The Difference Between Bail and Bond
The Bail Bondsman
The bail bondsman plays a vital role in our justice system. Without the ability for the average person to “bond out” they would have to stay in police custody until their court date. Price is only one part of the total cost.
- Speeds up the release process
- A good source of information
- Saves frustration from complications
- Less emotional stress
- Handles paperwork
- Financial advantages
The bail bondsman not only pays the court but is a good source of information and often can walk the defendant’s family through the process, saving them frustration, complications, and emotional stress. The bail bondsman also knows more about the rights of a defendant and the limitations of the law.
The bail bondsman can speed up the release of the defendant from police custody allowing them to return to their normal life as soon as possible. They have built a good relationship with the court system with contacts within the legal system. The bail bondsman also has an experienced staff available to do the paperwork which is often complicated, a plus when a minor mistake in paperwork can cause delays in release
Although the money used to “bail out” of jail is refunded to the defendant when they show up in court for trial the whole process could take several months, tying up the money with no access to it for the entire time. The bail bondsman’s fee although not refundable is more affordable than having the total amount of the bail tied up especially since the higher the bail the more complicated and drawn out the court process will become.