When a criminal defendant is granted bail, he will not be released from jail until he has satisfied his bail. Two ways by which he can satisfy his bail is through a cash bond, or through a surety bond. In this article, we take a look at the difference between the two.
In general terms, a cash bond is an agreement where a person agrees to pay a stated amount to demonstrate his intention to fulfill an obligation. When used for purposes of bail, a defendant agrees to pay the amount of bail to the court, which is held as a kind of guarantee for his appearance in court. If the defendant does fulfill his obligation and appears for his court hearings, then the purpose of his cash bond is served. When the case is finally disposed of, the cash bond is returned to him, regardless of whether he was found guilty or not, less any court fees or charges that may be applicable.
The advantage of this form of satisfying bail is that the defendant gets the full amount of his cash bond back when the charges against him are finally disposed of, less the applicable charges. In effect, he is not paying to get out of jail, but merely paying to satisfy the court of his intention to fulfill his obligation, which is to appear in court. The cash bond that is paid is held as a kind of incentive for him to fulfill his obligation, because if he does break his agreement and skips out on his bail, then the full amount of the cash bond will be declared forfeit in favor of the court. In other words, if the defendant skips bail, he loses the full amount of his bail in the form of a cash bond.
A surety bond, on the other hand, is a bit more complicated. There are three parties to a surety bond: the principal, the obligee, and the surety, which would be the court, the defendant, and the bail bondsman, respectively.
The obligee agrees with the surety that, in exchange for a consideration, he will file a surety bond on behalf of the obligee to satisfy the same conditions of bail to the principal or the court. In essence, a third person, the surety, or the bail bondsman, will answer for the amount of the bail in the form of a surety bond on behalf of the obligee or the defendant. The surety will provide the surety bond to the principal or the court, thus satisfying the court’s requirements, whereby the defendant is released on bail.
The consideration between the bail bondsman and the defendant consists of what is called the bail fee, which is a non-refundable fee that is considerably less than the full amount of the bail. Law regulates the imposition of this amount and sets it at 10 percent of the total amount of bail. This is a considerably lower amount for the defendant to pay in exchange for the satisfaction of his bail and to secure his release from detention, as opposed to a cash bond where he will need to pay the full amount of his bail. If he fulfills his obligation and appears regularly for his court hearings until his case is disposed of, he need not pay any further amount. However, he will not get this amount back because it is non-refundable.
If the defendant defaults and skips out on his bail, then the surety bond will be declared forfeited in favor of the court, same as with the cash bond. This time, it is the bail bondsman who will go after the defendant for the amount of the surety bond. Most bail bondsmen do require their clients to submit some form of collateral which they can turn to for satisfaction of their claim.
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