A bail bond is a process used to obtain the release of an accused for violation of law or defendant awaiting trial upon criminal charges from the custody of law enforcement officials. It can be done by the defendant’s family, friends, the defendant himself or a professional bail bond agent. Any of them can execute a document that promises to forfeit the sum of money determined by the court to be commensurate with the gravity of the alleged offense if the defendant fails to return for the trial date.
It is a given fact that most defendants are financially unable to post their own bail. Hence, they seek help from a bail agent or a bail bond agency who can accommodate the process. This will sometimes cost for a nonrefundable fee of 10 to 20 percent of the amount of the bail – posts bail. The responsibility of a bail agent becomes liable to the court for the full amount of bail, if the defendant fails to appear for the court date. Now, in that case, before agreeing to assume the risk of posting bail, the bail agent requires collateral from the defendant, such as:
- personal jewelries like bracelets, necklaces, or rings that are made from or contain jewels and precious metal,
- Securities, bonds, or other proprietary rights of property,
- Written guaranties by creditworthy friends or relatives of the defendant, or
- Any form of valuables that may in turn cover the amount in partial
This collateral acts as security to ensure repayment for any losses the bail agent might incur. But if the defendant appears to be a “poor risk,” and unlikely to return to court for trial, the bail agent will refuse to post bail. The bail agent, the defendant, or another interested party posts bail in the form of the bail bond at the court where the defendant is required to return for the proceeding. A defendant who has a record of steady employment, has resided in the community for a reasonable length of time, and has no prior criminal record is considered to be a good risk.
The court clerk issues a bail ticket or similar document, which is sent to the police to notify them that bail has been met. The defendant is released from custody when the bail ticket is received by the police. Liability under the bail bond ends when the defendant fulfills the conditions of the bond by appearing in court on the specified date, or if the terms of the bond become impossible to execute, such as:
- by the death of the defendant or by his or her arrest,
- detention of the defendant, or
- imprisonment on another offense in the same or different jurisdiction
A bail bond may be similarly used in cases of civil arrest to prevent a defendant from fleeing a jurisdiction to avoid litigation or fraudulently concealing or disposing of assets in order to become judgment proof.