Out on Bond vs Bail: Understanding The Difference

If you’re facing criminal charges, you’re probably wondering what your options are for staying out of jail until your trial. Depending on your situation, one option may be to be released on bond or bail. While both involve paying money to secure your release, there are some key differences between the two. To help you understand this a little better, let’s take a closer look at what it means to be out on bond vs bail.

What is bail?

Bail is a payment made to the court in exchange for releasing a defendant from jail. Bail is typically set by a judge and is designed to ensure that a defendant shows back up at court for trial. If the defendant shows up, they are entitled to get their bail money back, minus any fees charged by the court. If the defendant fails to show up, however, bail is forfeited, and a warrant may be issued for their arrest. 

What is bond?

Bond, on the other hand, is a payment made to a bail bondsman. This usually occurs if the defendant is unable to post bail for whatever reason (ex. Lack of funds or too large a burden). Rather than the defendant posting bail, the bondsman puts up the full amount of bail in exchange for a fee, usually around 10 percent of the total bail amount. This fee is non-refundable, even if the defendant shows up for trial. If the defendant does fail to show, the bondsman may work with a bounty hunter to bring them back to court.

Out on Bond Vs Bail

Bail is set by the court. A bond can be used to secure the total bail amount. While every defendant has the option to pay the bail amount directly to the court, this is often unrealistic for the average defendant. Depending on the criminal history of the defendant and the alleged crime in question, bail can be an extremely high amount (anywhere from a few thousand to a few hundred thousand dollars). Even if the defendant or their family has this dollar amount on hand, it might be an extreme burden to use these funds (since the court process could potentially last months or even years).

Keep in mind, there are pros and cons to each option. While working with a bail bondsman can seem like less of a burden up front, the 10% fee a bondsman charges is non-refundable. On the other hand, bail is refunded in full by the court system. 

Have more questions about bond vs bail?

Take a look at our additional resources to learn more: