What is a Bail Bond?

What is a Bail Bond?

Securing the release of a family member from jail can be a frightening and confusing experience. A judge may require a bail bond to be paid before they can be released. What is a bail bond and how does this process work?

A bail bond is a refundable payment to the court that will allow a defendant to be released while awaiting court proceedings. This cash payment or collateral is used to ensure a defendant will return for the scheduled court dates. 

Below we will define a bail bond is, different types of bail bonds, and how these amounts are set by the courts.

How do Bail Bonds work?

A bail bond is a set payment for the defendant to get out of jail while awaiting trial. Some court dates can take weeks or even months until they can begin. If they are unable to post a bail bond they will need to remain in custody for court proceedings.

In some cases, defendants can pay the full amount of bail on their own. If they don’t have the full amount or they are unable to pay their bail bond they may need a bail bondsman. For a fee, the bail bondsman will put up the cash or collateral for the defendant to be released.

Different Types of Bail

They are four different types of bail:

Recognizance Bail

Under this type of bail, the defendant signs a written agreement with the court to return for the proceedings and conditions they must abide by while they are released. There is no monetary payment needed. If they fail to reappear for court, a bail enforcement agent may be sent to bring them back for their court proceedings.

Surety Bail

For a surety bail, the bail bond company will post the bail. They can be obtained by a friend or a family member of the defendant, or the defendant. The bail bond company charges a fee for posting the bail bond. If a defendant doesn’t return to court, whoever signed for the bail bond can forfeit the collateral and face additional fees depending on the contract.

Cash Bail

When a defendant or someone on their behalf can pay the full amount to the court this is considered a cash bail. The bail amount will be returned following court proceedings if they appear at all the scheduled court dates.

Property Bail

If the defendant or someone on their behalf is unable to post the full amount in cash, they can use property, jewelry, or any asset equal or greater to the amount of the bail. The collateral is held until the end of the proceedings and returned after all court proceedings have been met.

Bail Hearings

The bail hearings are the first proceedings of the case. A judge will examine the case and set the bail bond amount for the release of the defendant. The judge will take into fact the details of the case, the character of the defendant, and if the defendant can be released.

The defendant don’t need a criminal defense lawyer present during bail hearings, but they can be helpful when discussing the bail factors and having the bail bond lowered or removed during the hearing.

In some areas, bail bonds can be paid even before a hearing. These are known as jailhouse bail schedules. These are set standards depending on the crime that can be paid for a defendant’s release before the bail hearing.


A bail bond is a set payment to ensure a defendant will not have to remain in jail and will return when the court proceedings can take place.