Pay Waiting: The Bail and Bond System

Let's breakdown the bail and bond relationship. When someone is arrested, a judge can set a bail amount to release the person from jail. That person is responsible to pay the specific bail amount to avoid jail time.

Being out on bail means someone doesn’t have to wait at county lock-up or jail for the next court appearance. The required bail amount is used as a way to make sure the defendants returns to court and follows certain conditions.

Bail amounts are up to the judge, and they can be based on many factors including the type of crime, criminal history, residency, likelihood of a reoffense, etc. The exact amounts vary greatly by state, and can often be unaffordable without assistance.

There are a few ways to pay bail if you or your family can’t afford to pay it in full. One option is is to buy a bail bond through a bond company. Bonds require a percentage of the bail amount to be paid up front — typically 10 percent. So, if your bail amount is $5,000, you are expected to pay $500 for the bond.

This does not include bond fees, which include the use of a bondsman, administrative fees and interest. You may also have to sign over some of your property to the bondsman in case you do not show up in court.

If you go through a bond company, the bondsman will pay the court a portion of your total bail amount. If the defendant doesn’t show up to the later court date, the bondsman will pay the remaining bail amount. However, if you don’t appear in court, the bondsman can sell your signed-over property and take the money from the sale .

If you return to court and meet all requirements, the bond fees paid to the bond company are non-refundable. If you paid the bail amount in full, without going through a bond company, a you may receive most of the amount back. However, it’s not guaranteed that you will receive the bail amount back in full.

To learn more about bail and bond, visit

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