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What is a Bail Bond and How Do They Work?

When someone is arrested, their bail is typically set at a specific dollar amount. If this person is unable to come up with the money to pay the bail amount, they may be able to post a bail bond. This allows an approved third party to pay the jail on behalf of the defendant. The bail bond companies then take care of getting the defendant released from jail.

What is a Bail Bond?

A bail is a form of security given to the court to secure a person’s release from jail while they await trial. The purpose of bail is to make sure the defendant makes their court dates by ensuring the defendant appears in court when required or forfeits their bail money. Bail bonds can be accepted by nearly anyone, including the defendant or a loved one. Nearly every state requires bail be put up for any defendants who cannot afford their bail.

How is Bail Set?

How much bail will be set depends on whether you are charged as an adult or a juvenile and on other factors. If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, your lawyer can advise you about bail. You should also talk to your lawyer about how much bail should be set if you are arrested on a warrant. Bail amounts vary from state to state, but are typically based on the severity of the crime and other factors, including:

  • The defendant’s criminal record
  • Your employment status and ability to pay the bail amount in cash (or with property)
  • Your ties to the community and likelihood of returning for court hearings

Different Types of Bail Bonds?

There are many different types of bail bonds. The most common type includes:

Cash Bail – The defendant pays the full amount of their bond to the court where they were arrested. This usually happens on the spot at the jail or police station.

Property Bail – The defendant puts up property as collateral to secure their freedom until their court date or hearing.

Surety Bonds – The defendant signs a contract with a bail agent that states they will appear in court when required to do so. If they fail to appear as required, the bail agent will pay a certain amount (the premium) to cover any losses incurred by the courts and law enforcement agencies involved in processing the case.

What Happens if the Defendant Goes to Court?

When the defendant goes to court, the bail bond is returned to the bail bond company. Experts at an Oakland bail bonds office will then refund your money. In some cases, you may have to pay a premium for your surety bond. This is usually about 10% of the amount of the bond that you paid, and it’s used to compensate the bail bondsman for any fees he may have incurred while trying to find your defendant or while trying to get him released from jail. If you don’t pay this fee, then your surety bond will be forfeited.

I Can’t Afford Bail. What do I do?

The first step is to call your lawyer. Your lawyer should be able to tell you what options are available to you and how much they will cost. If you don’t have a lawyer, talk to the public defender or other legal service providers in your area. They can help you find a lawyer and may also be able to help with bail if there is not enough money in your case to pay for it.

If you cannot afford bail, ask the judge to set an affordable bail amount that you can pay with a bail bond company. This option is often called “pretrial release.” If you do not qualify for pretrial release because of an outstanding warrant or failure to appear in court, ask for a hearing before a judge who may grant pretrial release without requiring a bond company payment.

If none of these options work for you, ask the judge about alternatives such as electronic monitoring, home detention, or house arrest.

Can a Judge Deny Bail?

Yes. A judge can deny bail for a number of reasons. The most common reason is if it is not in the best interest of society. For example, if a person charged with murder has no ties to the community and little likelihood of returning for trial, then he or she might be denied bail because society would be better off if the person were kept in jail. Other reasons for denying bail include:

The person charged with a crime may be considered dangerous or likely to flee if released from jail (for example, if he has no ties to the community).

The person charged with a crime may have committed similar crimes before and may commit similar crimes again if released from jail (for example, domestic violence).

The person charged with a crime may have been accused of more than one crime at once and may not be able to afford bail on all charges — so having him out would mean that one case would go unsolved while he awaits trial on another case.

At the end of the day, bail bonds do serve a purpose in the justice system. They are a way for people who have been arrested and are awaiting trial to receive their release from jail. For many defendants, securing bail can protect them from long-term incarceration before their trial.

Author information: Maggie Bloom graduated from Utah Valley University with a degree in communication and writing. In her spare time, she loves to dance, read, and bake. She also enjoys traveling and scouting out new brunch locations.

Bob Kraft

I am a Dallas, Texas lawyer who has had the privilege of helping thousands of clients since 1971 in the areas of Personal Injury law and Social Security Disability.

About This Blog

The title of this blog reflects my attitude toward those government agencies and insurance companies that routinely mistreat injured or disabled people. As a Dallas, Texas lawyer, I've spent more than 45 years trying to help those poor folk, and I have been frustrated daily by the actions of the people on the other side of their claims. (Sorry if I offended you...)

If you find this type of information interesting or helpful, please visit my law firm's main website at You will find many more articles and links. Thank you for your time.

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