Bail Bonds 101: What They Are and How They Work

Bail Bonds Sign in Window

When someone gets arrested for a charge that has yet to go through the judicial process, the judge allows the defendant to pay a fine or post bail while awaiting trial (or any other result). Bail is money or property that comes with the guarantee that the accused will appear in court when needed.

Because some people do not have the means, whether they’re in the suburbs of Utah or high-traffic districts of New York, they turn to the likes of 24-hour bail bonds services for the funds they need to gain temporary freedom.

Understanding Bail Bonds

Bail bonds are a type of surety that is provided to people who cannot post bail out of their own account. The money is provided by a surety bond company via a bail bondsman or agent. It has two types: 1) civil bail bond, to guarantee the payment of a debt in a civil case (including interest and expenses), and 2) criminal bail bond, to pay for any penalties or fines determined against the defendant and to guarantee that he or she will show up when the court summons.

In addition to assuring appearance, bail bonds are also meant to limit jail occupancy. When a person is arrested for any reason, three things can happen. He or she can either be released fully, charged and released upon posting bail, or charged and detained until the case is closed. People who have not been proven guilty may or may not be allowed to post bail, depending on the charge.

How Bail Bonds Work

Bail bonds are provided through any person, agency, or company that acts as the guarantor for the defendant. Similar to a loan, the person or company that provides the funds may charge the defendant a fee for agreeing to loan the funds.

There are people who are in the business of providing bail bonds, with some of them even providing 24-hour assistance for anyone who might need the funds. Agents typically charge around 10 to 15 percent of the bail amount, though some could charge more. That said, if the court sets bail at $15,000, the defendant can pay the agent $1,500, and that agent will act as a guarantor on his or her behalf.

Most bail bond agents also require the defendant to provide some sort of collateral for the “loan.” This can be in the form of a property certificate, jewelry, or any other valuable items that the agent can sell in the event that the defendant fails to show up in court as agreed. Bond agents may also repossess properties if such happens.

How Bail Money is Refunded

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You can recoup the money posted for the bail if the defendant adheres to all bail conditions successfully. When this happens, the payer (or the agent, if any) will receive the funds when the case is concluded. The release of the funds will depend on the type of bail used and where the money was paid. For example, if someone paid cash bail in Draper, Utah, the bail payment will likely be released in two weeks to two months for when the case was concluded.

The length of time could be shorter or longer in other jurisdictions. When the bond agent receives the money, this amount is returned to the defendant, but now without the bond agent’s fee, which is non-refundable regardless of the outcome of the case.

In case the defendant fails to appear in court or does not follow bail conditions, the same agent has the capacity to find that person and take him or her back to the custody of the police. The court usually gives bond agents time to find the defendant after bail terms are violated; during such time the agent can do the search or hire a bounty hunter to do it.

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