Financial Guide: The Various Types of Bail Bonds and How to Pay Them

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When you or someone you love gets arrested, your first objective is bail. No one wants to spend more time locked up than they have to, and the bail system allows people accused of crimes a chance to return to their homes while they wait for trial and, if necessary, sentencing.

In the minutes and hours after an arrest, emotions are high, and understanding bail bonds can be confusing and overwhelming. There are many different types of bonds, and the situations to which they apply and the ways to pay them vary greatly.

Read on to learn about the different types of bail bonds that are available. After reading, you will have a much better understanding of which type applies to your specific situation, how to pay for them, and how to move forward onto the next and more important steps of a defense.

No matter what, posting bail does not mean that you or your loved one get out immediately. The system moves much more slowly than anyone would like; however, once you pay the bond, you or your loved one are at least one step closer to heading home for the night.

Different Types of Bail Bonds

There are seven different types of common bail bonds. Each of the bail bonds described below is specific to the type of payment, the type of crime, and the financial and legal status of the person who committed the crime.

However, paying bail does not mean that the arrested individual is now free and clear. People pay bail for temporary release from jail until trial. If the individual who is bailed out does not appear in court each and every required date, they will forfeit the bail paid, and a warrant will be issued for the offender’s arrest.

Arrests are not uncommon. The police in the United States arrest ten million people each year – that’s one person every three seconds – but not all of them end up incarcerated. Once they pay bail, arrested individuals can focus on working on their defense, so they hopefully do not have to return to lockup.

Cash Bail

Cash bail is simple. It is when someone pays bail in cash. If you have access to the cost of the set bail, this is the type of bail you will pay.

Most of the time, when someone wishes to pay the cash bail, the court will only accept cash. If you try to pay cash bail with a check or credit card, you will likely be turned away.

Often, bail is set at a higher amount than an individual can afford, though. In those cases, another type of bail bond will be necessary. This also applies when the person paying the bail is unable to withdraw the cash from their bank before the bank closes. Another type of bail bond may, therefore, be necessary if the arrest occurs at night or on a weekend.

If someone is likely to be a flight risk, the cash bail is often set rather high to deter payment of cash bail.

Surety Bond

A surety bond is usually what someone is talking about when they use the phrase bail bond. These types of bonds exist for people who are unable to pay the full cost of the bond in cash.

When someone needs a surety bond, a friend or relative of the arrested individual will contact a bail bondsman. He or she will pay the bail bondsman 10% of the total cost of the bail, and the bail bondsman will cover the rest to get the person out of jail.

However, if the arrested individual does not make the required court appearances, or the person who paid the bail bondsman does not pay back the money borrowed, there can be severe repercussions. Bounty hunters may become involved in some jurisdictions so that the bail bondsman can recoup his or her loss.

Property Bond

Not all states offer property bonds, but when available, personal property can stand in as collateral for bail. You can use many different types of property, such as vehicles, homes, or high-value possessions.

If the individual does not appear in court when summoned, the property can be seized by the court.

Unlike cash bail and surety bonds, property bonds are not immediate. The court must assess the property before it can determine if the value of the property is enough to cover the bail. Therefore, property bonds are generally only used when the bail is set very high.

Immigration Bond

An immigration bond is a bond for someone who is not a citizen of the United States apprehended by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement department (ICE). Because a person in this situation is not a citizen, the laws that apply are different.

Like a surety bond, a person who wishes to bail someone out from immigration custody will pay a percentage of the set bail. The released individual must appear at all court dates, and if deported, they must report to ICE. If they do not, they will forfeit the bond and will be subject to an arrest warrant.

If you need to know how to pay an immigration bond, it is crucial that you contact a lawyer or bail bondsman who has experience with this type of bond. The ICE system works somewhat differently than the regular legal system, so it’s important to be properly prepared.

Federal Bail Bond

Federal crimes require a federal bail bond. Surety bonds are not allowed in federal court cases, so cash or property is necessary to obtain this type of bail bond.

Personal Recognizance

When someone is released on personal recognizance, the bail payment is not required. In the case of a personal recognizance release, the individual is responsible for showing up for court. In other words, the court simply trusts this person to appear.

These types of releases are rare but sometimes occur for low-risk cases. If the individual does not appear when the court date rolls around and is caught, he or she will go to jail until his or her trial and sentencing.

Release on Citation

If the violation is minor, the offender may get a citation, and an arrest may not occur. This sort of release often occurs for traffic violations. However, if the individual does not appear in court when summoned, a warrant will be issued for arrest. In the meantime, the offender can lose his or her driver’s license, tax refunds, or unemployment benefits.

Good Luck

If you or a loved one is arrested, you have a long road ahead of you. Using a bail bond to obtain temporary freedom is only your first step in a lengthy process. However, once you are released, it is much easier to focus on the court process ahead. There is a lot to know, so it is vital you hire an attorney right away. Chances are, the process will end up being easier than you might think, so it’s important that you keep your head up and stay positive. Good luck!

If you want to read more about our country’s legal system, check out the Law section of our site.