Q: What is a bail bond?
A: A bail bond is a monetary amount, generally set by a presiding judge, and given to a defendant within days of being arrested on misdemeanor or felony charges. The amount is generally based on the severity of the alleged crime. Bail is a financial arrangement that a bail bonding agency will make on behalf of the criminal defendant. The agency, acting for the defendant, will arrange with the court to have them released from jail pending trial.
Q: What does it mean when the jail says a defendant has a cash or surety bond?
A: This means that the defendant can post cash in the amount of the bond with the jail, or the defendant can go through a surety bondsman.
Q: If I use a bondsman how does it work?
A: A bail bondsman will charge a non-refundable fee, usually 10% of the bond amount, in order to secure the release of a defendant. The bail bondsman will also require security against the defendant’s assets to cover the cost of bail. If the defendant does not have enough assets, then the bondsman might take out securities against individuals who are willing to assist, such as relatives or friends.
Q: What happens if a defendant fails to appear in court?
A: The bail agency will be notified by the court immediately and the process for seizure of assets begins. Obviously, the court would rather have the defendant than any proceeds from a forfeiture of a bond, so the bail agency will hire a bounty hunter to secure the arrest of the defendant and bring them back to court, where the original bond will be revoked. If the defendant is not found within a time frame set by the court, assets will be seized and sold to secure payment to the court.
Q: If I pledge collateral for a defendant, how long are my assets tied to the bail bond?
A: Assets are secured to a bail bond until exoneration by the court, which generally means until the defendant has been found guilty, innocent, or if the charges are dropped in the interest of justice.
Q: Will I lose the assets I have pledged for security on a bond if the defendant is arrested again while out on bail?
A: No. A bail bond is an appearance bond only. It is not a violation of the contract between the court and the surety, who is acting on behalf of the defendant. Although, the entities who have pledged collateral for the defendant have the right to withdraw or revoke the bond at this time, based on the recent actions of the defendant. This is especially true if the defendant is arrested in a county other than where the first bond originates.
Q: What is the process for getting my assets released after the defendants bond has been exonerated?
A: It is up to the defendant, or those who have pledged security, to notify the bail agency that court is complete. Proof of exoneration from the court will need to be provided in order for assets to be released. You can usually get this from the clerk of courts in the county where court proceeding are held.