How does a bail bond make money?

A bail bond is a financial agreement made between a bail bond agent and the defendant or their family members. The defendant pays the bondsman a non-refundable fee (usually 10 percent of the total bail amount) in exchange for a guarantee that they will appear in court as required. Let’s break down, “How does a bail bond make money?” and why this is important.

Bail Bond Fees 

The most obvious way that bail bonds make money is through charging fees for their services. Depending on the state and local laws, these fees can range — but in California, this fee is 10 percent of the total bail amount set by the court. When deciding how much to charge, bondsmen typically consider factors such as the risk of flight (the likelihood that the defendant will not appear in court) and any collateral that can be secured if necessary. This fee is non-refundable (regardless of whether or not the defendant appears in court). This is important to keep in mind when considering whether or not to use a bondsman. 


Another way that bail bonds make money is by collecting collateral from defendants or their family members who are unable or unwilling to pay their entire bond upfront. Collateral is something of value – often property – that can be seized if a defendant fails to show up for their scheduled court appearance. The value of this collateral must be equal to or greater than the amount of bail being set by the court and can include items like vehicles, jewelry, cash, stocks, real estate, etc. If you are unable to provide sufficient collateral for your bond amount, then you may need to seek out other forms of help from friends or family members who can vouch for you financially and provide collateral on your behalf. 

Bail bonds play an essential role in our criminal justice system by providing accused individuals with access to pre-trial release while also ensuring they appear in court as ordered. Understanding how bail bonds make money is key when deciding if they are right for you or someone you care about—they will charge fees but may also require collateral depending on your situation and risk level associated with your case. It’s important to understand all aspects before making any decisions regarding using a bail bond service so that you don’t get stuck with any unexpected costs down the road.