When it comes to the criminal justice system, the terms can be confusing and you can’t afford not to know the differences.
If you’re not sure about what bond vs bail means, there are several key things you should be aware of.
Read on to discover the difference between setting bail and a criminal bond so you’re prepared just in case you ever need to have this information handy.
Bond vs Bail Basics
If you’re accused of a crime and you’re in the custody of the police, you may be able to get out of jail by posting either bond or bail. The judge in charge will be the person who determines how much your bond or bail will be set at.
The dollar amount of your bond or bail will largely depend on the nature of the crime and the gravity of the offense. It also depends on the likelihood of the accused fleeing or running away to another jurisdiction as well as the potential of the accused to commit the same or similar crime again.
Bond is often facilitated via a third party, such as a bail bondsman. He or she will enter into an agreement that they will be financially accountable for the debt that you hold until your court date has passed and you’ve paid them the bond amount.
When it comes down to it, your bond or bail will always be determined by a magistrate judge. They hold the reins when it comes to making the final decision, which can have a huge impact on your finances and your freedom.
When the judge sets bail, it is an amount of money that the court requires to be paid on your behalf. This bail secures your release and ensures that you will appear on your court date to make your defense.
The judge determines the total amount of the bail as well as any additional conditions. In most cases, the amount is set high enough that the courts think you, the accused, can be trusted to show up to your hearing.
If the bail is set low, it’s usually because the judge believes you are low-risk, or that they know you won’t be able to make bail. The US Constitution has a clause that requires bail not to be too excessive.
The fate of your bail amount rests solely in the judge’s hands, but there are some things they still take into consideration. The purpose of bail is not to punish you, but to make sure that you will attend your hearing.
If the crime or charge is very serious or you already have a criminal record, your bail is probably going to be higher. Another reason bail will either be set high or denied is if the judge believes the public’s safety is at risk.
An example of a risk to public safety would be if the accused has made a threat against a victim or witness or if they used a deadly weapon to commit the crime. Being a flight risk is another common reason the judge may either deny bail or set it high.
So, what’s the difference in bail vs bond? Read on to learn more about the term criminal bond and how it differs from bail.
Criminal Bond: What it Means for You
It’s important to know the difference between bond and bail if you’ve been accused of a crime. If the judge has set your bail amount but you’re unable to pay for it all at once, a bond will be set.
Bond refers to the payment of your bail amount, but it’s usually set at a percentage of the total bail. In most cases, your bond will cost anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of the total bail amount.
When you have a bond, also known as a “surety bond,” you have a paper bond or contract between the court and a surety company. You probably know a surety company as a bail bondsman or bond company.
If you do have the full bail amount, you can pay it in cash to the court. This bail amount is held until you appear to all of your court hearings.
When the case is over and resolved, the money is refunded to you. However, if you fail to appear to any of your trials, the court can keep the bail money.
In the case of criminal bonds, there is no money required for you to pay at the time of your release. Instead, you will sign a commitment to attend your court date knowing that you could be subject to some very significant financial penalties if you don’t follow through.
The bondsman or bond company is vouching for you and stating that you will appear in court and they collect the percentage of your bail amount. To make this clearer, here’s an example of how bond works.
Let’s say your bail is set at $8,000 cash or bond and you want to post cash bail. If you post cash bail, you’d need to bring the entire amount of $8,000 to court.
If you need a bond, you’d pay the bond fee of $800, which is 10 percent of your total bail amount. It’s important to note that your bond fee is non-refundable, while bail can be refunded in most cases.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to pay additional fees like court costs and lawyer costs outside of your bond or bail. As long as you make all of your court appearances, the cash bail is refunded to you.
Now that you know the differences between bond vs bail, you’ll be prepared in the event that you’re ever charged with a crime. Remember to keep your commitment and attend all court dates so you can be refunded and your life can get back to normal when the trial is over.
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