Do you get bail money back if found guilty?

Do you get bail money back if found guilty? This is definitely a frequently asked question around here. 

But whether you’re eventually found guilty or innocent, it’s important to understand what happens to all that bail money. Is bail money returned or not? And what happens if you work with a bail bond agent instead? Do you lose money at that point?

Let’s break down bail and what happens to your money based on how you pay it.

What is bail?

When a person is arrested and taken to jail, the court will often set a bail amount according to a bail schedule. This schedule outlines how much bail should be set for specific crimes. The defendant or their family can pay the bail in cash or with a credit card and the money is held by the court until the case is resolved.

What is a bail bond?

For some people, the amount of bail set by the court is too high to pay in cash. In these cases, they may work with a bail bond company.

A bail bond is a contract between the person posting bail and the surety company that they will appear in court. The person posting bail pays a percentage of the total bail amount, typically 10%, to the bail bond company.

After paying the 10% bail bond fee, the company will then post the full bail amount with the court on behalf of the defendant.

Is bail returned if you pay the court?

Keep Reading: How is bail amount determined by the court?

If you paid bail directly to the court, then you can rest easy knowing that the bail money will be returned in full. However, the case has to be completely over and done with — meaning nothing can be pending. This is good news considered how steep bail is these days — averaging around $50k in California.

That being said, there are a few reasons why bail would not be returned to the payee. The main reasons typically include the following:

  • Failure to Appear in Court: One of the most common reasons why the court may not return the bail money is if the defendant fails to appear for their scheduled hearings. Bail money is essentially collateral that a person posts to ensure they will show up to court. If they don’t show up, they are essentially forfeiting that collateral. The court can use the money to cover expenses incurred while trying to locate and bring the defendant to court. If the defendant still doesn’t show up, the court can keep the money and issue a warrant for their arrest.
    • Violating Bail Conditions: When a person is released on bail, they are often required to comply with certain conditions. These conditions may include staying within a certain geographical area, avoiding contact with certain people, or refraining from drugs and alcohol. Violating these conditions can result in the court revoking the bail and forfeiting the bail money.

      Is bail returned if you work with a bail bond company?

      As mentioned, a bail bond company will post bail on your behalf for a 10% fee. Even though you aren’t paying the full bail amount, you are paying a percentage of this. So the question becomes: Do you get this fee back?

      The answer is no.

      The 10% fee for a bail bond is nonrefundable (even if you are eventually found innocent of all charges). In essence, this is considered a service payment to the bail bond company.

      For offering a service (posting your total bail amount and taking on that risk), they charge you 10% of the bail, and you do not get that money back.

      Keep Reading: How do bail bond companies work?

      Is bail returned if you’re found guilty?

      Whether you’re found innocent or guilty of the charges, bail is returned. But again, the case has to be completely over before this can happen. Bail is simply a preventative measure to make sure defendants return to court for trial. It is not an opportunity for the court system to make extra money. Because of this, bail is returned.

      Keep Reading: Can you bail someone out of jail with no money?

      How to decide how to post bail

      If you’re trying to decide how to pay bail, working with a bail bond company is often the better choice. Since the court process can take a while, most people are hesitant to temporarily empty out their savings account to pay bail (even if it is returned at the end of everything). A bail bond company gives you the opportunity to keep your money and get your loved one out of jail while they await trial. The bail premium is usually worth it in the long run. 

      If you need help posting bail, we can help. At Cowboy Bail Bonds, we have decades of experience helping people post bail in Bakersfield, Taft, Lamont, and throughout Kern County. Give us a call or send us a message to get help today.