What is bail?
In short, Bail is that part of our legal system that allows an accused person to be temporarily released from custody so they can continue their lives while they prepare for their day in court. In criminal cases, it is a sum of money, real property or surety bond that needs to be posted by or on behalf of a defendant to guarantee their appearance in court. The right to reasonable Bail is guaranteed to you in the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.
How does a bail bond work?
The court system will set the amount of bail required for the defendant's release. Under state law, a surety company can provide a type of insurance policy or "bond" that guarantees payment of the full bail amount to the court if the defendant does not show up for all scheduled appearances. These bonds are offered by licensed bail bond agencies. For supplying these bonds, bail agencies charge a premium - a percentage of the total bond amount, typically 10%. By way of example, for a bond amount set at $50,000, the premium would be about $5,000 plus any additional fees required by the state. The bail agency must charge the premium rate it has filed with the Department of Insurance and the premium is not refundable once the defendant is released.
What is a bail bond?
A bail bond is a financial guarantee made by or on behalf of a criminal defendant that is used to guarantee their appearance in court through the end of their trial upon release from custody. Failure by the defendant to appear will result in a bond forfeiture.
What is the difference between bond amount and bond premium?
The bond amount is the full amount of the bail that was set by the court. The premium is the dollar amount owed to the bail agency for posting the bond. Usually this premium is 10% - 15% of the bond amount. For example, if the bond amount is $50,000, the premium owed would be $5,000.
Who is an indemnitor/guarantor?
An indemnitor/guarantor is the person(s) willing to be responsible for the defendant while they are out on bail and co-assumes financial liability to guarantee the full bond amount.
What is a bail bond exoneration?
A bail bond is exonerated when the legal process/trial has finished. It does not matter whether the defendant is found guilty or innocent or the case dismissed. At this point, the liability for the bond amount is discharged, however and any unpaid premium, fees or charges incurred by the bail agency on your behalf are still owed to that agency.
When does a bail bond forfeiture take place?
Bail bond forfeiture results when a court appearance is missed. If a defendant misses a court date, a bench warrant is issued for their arrest. The court also sets a deadline for when either the defendant must be located/returned to custody or the bail bond "reinstated" or the bail amount must be paid to the court.
What is a summary judgment?
A summary judgment is issued by the court following a bond forfeiture. This is a judgment against the surety for payment of the bond amount. The summary judgment is issued because the deadline for reinstating the bond or returning the defendant to custody has passed.
What is a bail bond reinstatement?
This is a process by which a defendant who has experienced a bail bond forfeiture can have their bench warrant removed and the bail bond re-activated or "reinstated" with the court. This is a legal proceeding that usually requires action by an attorney and could result in fees being paid by the bail bond agency. These fees are, in turn, passed along to the defendant/indemnitors. Due to the time it takes for the courts to process these fees, the billing for this process can take several months to complete.