Bail And Bonds: Clearing Up The Confusion

When a loved is arrested, it can seem like a whole new world. Unfamiliar terms and tasks can serve to confuse some and it's easy to see why. Terms like "bail" and "bonds" seem to be used interchangeably and they both apply to something that is very important and urgent: to get your loved one free from jail. Read on for some help on what these two terms really mean and how to help your loved gain freedom quickly and inexpensively.

What is Bail?

Bail is a legal term and covers both the payment of funds and the expected behavior of the accused. Bail is not a punishment — punishments are only ordered after sentencing. Instead, you can consider it a deposit on returning later on to face the judge for the crimes to which you are accused. For example, if bail is granted in the amount of $5,000, you have the option of paying the bail directly to the courts and have your loved one immediately released. They must abide by all the conditions of the bail, such as staying out of trouble, not leaving the area, etc. If your loved one abides by all conditions and the case comes to a close by either a conviction or being found innocent, the court returns the bail money and frees up any property pledge in addition to the bail. To make things confusing, bail can be called a bond sometimes.

Bail and Signature Bonds

This type of bail situation is similar to being released on "own recognizance" status. No funds are paid, but the accused must pay the bail if they don't follow bail conditions and/or fails to show up for court.

Bail Bonds

The third option is the one most people rely on to get their loved ones free from jail. Here, you work with a third party business that is not directly associated with the courts. These agencies make a promise to the courts to pay the bail of the accused by signing what is known as a surety bond. That means the bail bonding agency is responsible for paying the bail if the accused fails to comply with all bail conditions. In return, the accused (or a loved one) pays the bonding agency a non-refundable fee. The fee varies from place to place and is based on a percentage of the full bail amount. Here is an example of the math: your loved one's bail is set at $5,000. The bonding agency charges a 15% fee. You can pay 15% of the $5,000 ($750) and your loved one can be released from jail. If they fail to abide by the bail conditions, however, you will owe the bonding agency the full bail amount of $5,000.

To get your questions about this process answered, phone a bail bondsman in the area where your loved one is being held.