When you are accused of a crime, getting arrested and spending time in jail can be an unfamiliar and frightening experience. Fortunately, since you are legally innocent until proven guilty, in many cases a judge may allow you to be released until your hearing or trial. However, the judge may order that you provide some form of guarantee that you will return to face the charges against you before you can be released from custody. This security is called a Bail Bond, and it must usually be turned over to the court in the form of cash, property, a signature bond, a secured bond through a surety company, or a combination of forms.
Bail bonds are usually set during a formal procedure called a bail hearing. This is when the judge meets with the accused person (Defendant) and hears information about whether or not it is appropriate to set bail. If certain types of bail bonds are considered, like a secured bond or property bond, the judge will consider information about the Defendant's financial resources and the sources of whatever property or funds will be used as collateral for the bail bond. If anyone else will be posting bail for the Defendant, they are considered as a Surety and their financial situation will also be considered.
If a Surety is involved in providing bail, he must be present at the bail hearing along with the Defendant, and the Judge will inform both of them about their various obligations and responsibilities. It is very important to note that if the Defendant does not fulfill his responsibilities and appear for residual statements and court dates, or if he violates any conditions of his release, the bail may be revoked and forfeited. So it is very important that the Surety has confidence in the Defendant before posting bail.
Once the bail has been set, it is important to understand the various bail options. "Cash" may may include cash, but it can usually also be paid by certified checks, cashier's checks or money orders. It is very important for anyone posts the cash bail to keep the receipt they receive so that they will be able to collect their refund once the terms of the bail have been met. Depending on the amount of cash bail, it may also be necessary for the Defendant or Surety to complete tax forms like IRS Form W-9 as well.
Unlike cash bail, signature bonds mean that a Defendant does not need to post any funds or property as security. Usually the Defendant only needs to sign the proper forms for the court clerk in order to be released. But it is very important to pay close attention to any conditions or instructions that the Judge has given to be sure that Defendant understands exactly what he must do so that his bail is not revoked.
Corporate Surety Bonds are bail bonds that are secured by Bail bondsmen. Usually the Defendant or the Surety pays 10% of the total bail amount to the bondsman, and the Defendant or the Surety must have sufficient financial assets that they could pay the reminder of the bond if the bail is revoked or if the Defendant does not meet the conditions of his bail. Even if the Defendant does meet all of his bail conditions, the 10% remains the property of the bail bondsman and is not returned to the defender.
Sometimes a Judge may approve Property bonds as collateral to secure a bond. Usually the Judge will require that the Defendant or Surety provide proof of ownership of the property, as well as an appraisal of value, and a list of any existing claims or other encumbranches against the property.
Once the conditions of bail have been met, the bail may be released or returned. However, it is important to remember that this does not happen automatically. Usually the Surety, the Defendant or the Defendant's attorney will need to file a motion or take some other action to recover the cash or property securing the bail. So always check with the procedures in your case and make sure that the proper steps are followed to have the bail returned to the appropriate person.