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What is the difference between bail and a bond?

On Behalf of | Feb 5, 2024 | CRIMINAL LAW - Criminal Law

Being arrested can be a scary and confusing experience, especially if you have never been in trouble with the law before. The thought of going to jail can be terrifying and one of your first priorities may be learning how bail and bonds work so you can avoid spending the night in jail.

Why are bail and bonds set?

The terms bail and bond are sometimes used interchangeably but they have different meanings. The purpose of bail and bonds is to ensure that you will attend future court dates and not flee.

Bail is an amount of money set by the judge that you must pay yourself to be released. The court holds this money and it is refunded to you when your case is over.

Bond is paid by a bail bond agent. A bail bond agent is a licensed professional and often charges a non-refundable fee for their services which is usually around 10%.

The bail bond agent pays the full amount of your bail set by the court. You are released from jail when the bail bond agent pays your bond. Unlike bail, the bond is non-refundable and is paid to a third-party.

When your bail amount is set, you typically have a choice to pay it yourself or through a bail bond agent. The main reason people usually choose to pay via a bail bond agent is out of necessity if they cannot afford the amount themselves.

Pre-trial release requirements

Once your bail is paid through either method you are released, although you are still legally required to attend all court hearings and comply with other requirements.

These requirements usually include not committing any further crimes or contacting any victims or witnesses in your case. If you miss a hearing or do not obey any of these requirements you could forfeit your bail.