When a person is arrested for a crime and booked into jail, he or she has to go before the judge who then decides the terms and conditions of that particular person"s bail order. Under certain circumstances, such as if the person is considered a threat to the society, bail is denied, i.e., the person cannot be released before trial and is “remanded” into police custody. In case of a person who can be released from jail, a bond order has to be granted by the judge. There are two types of bonds - secured and unsecured. A secured bond means that you actually pay money or bail property to secure your release. An unsecured bond or surety bond means you sign a document that says you will pay a certain amount of money if the defendant breaks his/her bond conditions.

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There are four different types of bonds categorized under secured and unsecured bonds. In some (rare) cases a defendant can be released “on his own recognizance.” The other three are cash, property, and surety bonds ordered in most of the bail-bond cases. Cash bonds, generally referred to as “bail”,are the payment made in cash to the court. Property bonds offer the title to a defendant’s own property, which will be forfeited in the event of non-compliance. And the last, surety bond, generally referred to as “bond”, is the one when a third party agrees to be responsible for the debt or obligation of the defendant.

In general, we can say bail and bond are two related terms referring to a requirement imposed by the court that a defendant will put forth a financial backing to their promise to appear in court as ordered.

This article talks about the difference between bail and bond from a United States perspective. Other countries may have different procedures.

Bail versus Bond comparison chart
BailBondAbout Mode of payment Refund Type
Bail is the cash payment paid by the defendant to the court. A bond is the bondsman’s pledge to make good on the bail if the defendant doesn’t appear.
Cash only. Third party agrees to be responsible for the debt and obligation of the defendant.
Bail money will be returned at the end of the trial, if all the court requirements are fulfilled. Money paid as a fee for services will not be returned.
Secured Secured

Who pays?

Bail is the cash payment paid by the defendant himself or by someone on his behalf. It is the money that is put up as security, to assure that the defendant will appear for trial. A defendant can put up cash, which is not practical when the amount is large, or can go to a bondsman and obtain a bond. A bond is the bondsman’s pledge to make good on the bail if the defendant doesn’t appear before the court. Traditionally, the defendant pays the bondsman 10% of the value of the bond and puts up collateral security, such as real estate.

So it can be said that bond is the legal document provided by the authorized company guaranteeing that the defendant will appear in the court as per the schedule or the bonding company will have to pay the court.

This is a good video that discusses how bail bonds work:

Mode of payment

Bail amount is accepted in cash only, whereas bonds are usually posted by an approved bonding agent for a set fee (typically around 10% of the bond amount) and other guarantees or collateral.

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Normally the bail money posted by the defendant as bail will be returned at the end of the trial to the defendant once they have satisfied all the court requirements, no matter whether the person is found guilty or not guilty of the crime accused, but can be forfeited if the defendant does not appear on the date assigned by the court or may be credited towards fines and fees due to the court. In contrast, money paid to the bonding agent is considered as part of fee and is never returned.

The Bail Bond Process



The process of bail bonds in the state of California


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