Skip to main content

Criminal Law

Search for an Attorney  

The Differences Between Bond and Bail

When someone is arrested, there are a few ways that they can be released from custody. Custody means you are being held in jail but have not been sentenced yet.

You have probably heard of bail and bond before, although there is a difference between the terms. Understanding these differences will help you determine what is needed for your loved one to be released.

What Is Bail?

Bail is the amount of money a defendant must pay to be released from jail. A defendant is the legal term for a person facing charges for a crime.

When the money is given to the jail, the defendant is said to have been “bailed out.” Should they not return for the next court hearing, that money is forfeited, and a warrant is issued for the defendant’s arrest.

There can be several conditions of bail, too, such as:

  • Not leaving the local area where the court is located
  • Not drinking
  • Not doing any drugs
  • Not talking to or going near anyone involved in the case

If a defendant does not abide by these requirements, the bail could be revoked, and they would go back to jail.

What Is Bond?

Bond is money paid by a bonding company to the court. The bond is usually “secured” with the bondsman, meaning you make a deal. This process means that something worth money is given to the bonding company in exchange for the defendant’s release. Things like a house or car may be used.

If the defendant doesn’t appear in court, the property put up with the bondsman becomes the property of the bondsman. They can legally take your house, car, or anything else you promised them.

Bondsmen and Not Appearing for Court

The bond put up is generally done with an “affidavit” from a company that backs the bondsman. Affidavit means a written statement or oath. You can think of it like a legally binding promise.

Sometimes people run or hide and do not appear in court. The bondsman can try to get the defendant to return and appear for court. In some states, this is done through the use of bounty hunters.

“Bondsmen” is an outdated term because anyone can work in the bond industry. They are also called bondspeople, guarantors, or bond dealers.

What Is a Signature Bond?

Some courts allow defendants to post a signature bond. This is an agreement between the defendant and court and does not require any money ahead of time. If the defendant doesn’t appear, the defendant will owe the court a specific amount of money. This type of bond is generally reserved for defendants who are not considered a high risk of flight. Not being a flight risk means you will not leave the local area, try to hide, or try to go to a different country. People can be a low flight risk if they have:

  • Local family or children
  • No money to leave
  • No contacts in other states or countries
  • Obligations in town, like a house or job

Is Bail or Bond Better?

It depends on your resources. If you can put the money up with the court and know that you will appear, then you won’t be out any money. This would mean bail is a good option for you.

If you or your family cannot afford bail, then you may have to use a bond. If you use bail or a bond and skip court, you will not only have the bounty hunters looking for you but law enforcement as well. Your attorney can provide advice on using bail or bond to get out of jail. This professional advocate can also ask the court for a bail reduction if it is set too high.

Was this helpful?