Difference Between Bond and Bail
If someone is arrested for an alleged crime, then the police take the accused person to jail. The person normally would stay in police custody until a judge hears the case and a trial is carried out.
However, the trial can take a few weeks or even months to conclude. In such a case, the accused person will have to stay in jail regardless of whether he/she is guilty or not.
The accused person cannot go to work, earn an income, be with family, or attend any important family/personal events.
This system may sound flawed because an innocent person could be forced to be locked up in jail for weeks. As a solution to this problem, we have the concept of bail.
Purpose of bail
Bail is a deposit which the accused (or the person’s family/friends) needs to pay to the court as a security deposit. This security deposit is refundable in full subject to certain conditions.
Upon granting bail and the payment of the bail amount by the accused, the court orders the temporary release of the accused person from jail until all court proceedings conclude.
However, the accused person is required to show up to all future court proceedings for the entire duration of the trial.
By taking a security deposit, the court is incentivizing the accused person to co-operate and show up at all the hearings of the trial.
Instead of forcing the person to remain in jail, the person is allowed to go home, yet still not flee from the court.
Will I get my money back?
The bail refund is independent of the final outcome or judgment of the trial hearing. Even if the accused person is pronounced as guilty, the refund is still given.
The bail is simply meant for release from custody in the interim period of the court trial taking place.
The refund is not given if certain conditions set by the bail judge are violated.
The bail money is also not returned if the accused person gets arrested for some other crime while out on bail. A second arrest spells trouble for the accused.
The judge hearing the bail plea takes into account multiple factors when deciding whether to grant bail to the defendant or not.
For example, if the defendant has had a long history of crime or a recent record of crime, then that might work against him/her.
Similarly, the nature of the alleged crime is also examined. The judge has to decide whether the defendant is a threat to the community by being out on bail.
If any of these factors are compelling enough for the judge, he/she may very well turn down the bail plea and order the accused to remain in jail until all court proceedings are completed.
Lastly, if a person is of foreign nationality or from a wealthy background, the court might view the case with the lens of what is known as flight risk. It is essentially a risk that the person may flee the country altogether to avoid court proceedings.
In such cases, the bail judge can turn down a bail plea citing flight risk. Hence, getting a bail is not a guaranteed outcome.
There are many ways of paying the bail amount if it is granted by the judge. The most direct and simple way is to pay the entire amount to the court by cash or check. Upon payment, the court orders the release of the defendant.
If the defendant does not have enough cash (bail amounts are not small), then he/she can pledge a personal property that they own by providing a property bond. The court holds on to the property bond and gets a lien on that property.
In the event that the defendant fails to show up for court proceedings, the court can foreclose the property to recover the full bail amount. Another option is a bail bond, which is discussed in detail below.
What is a bail bond?
A bail bond is a type of arrangement carried out by the accused to make a partial bail payment and still get released. A bail bond is a pledge that a bail bondsman or a bail agent makes to the court that in the event of the accused not showing up to court, the bondsman will make the entire payment of the bail amount.
The bondsman effectively takes responsibility for the bail amount and for the accused to co-operate. In return for this pledge, the bail bondsman charges a fee to the accused person.
Normally, either the accused or his/her relatives and friends contacts the bail agent. They then pay the bail agent his/her fee, which is a percentage of the total bail amount set by the judge hearing the bail plea.
Normally the fee is about 10 to 20 percent of the bail amount. Note that this fee is non-refundable.
The bail agent may ask the relatives or friends of the accused (or the accused person directly) for some form of collateral to protect the risk that is being taken.
This makes the concept of bail bonds work because the accused not only has money at stake, but also relationships with friends and relatives if they are also involved. And not to mention, the collateral of those friends or relatives, if they have pledged it with the bail bondsman.
This method of bail bonds is great if the accused is short on cash or does not have any property to pledge. They can get bail simply by paying a small percentage of the bail amount.
It is good for the bail agent because he/she gets to earn income. The bail agent is often backed by an insurance company in the event that the accused flees while out on bail.
In conclusion, while bail is something that the accused pays directly to the court, a bond is a commitment given by a third person (bail bondsman) to the court that the bail payment will be made by the bondsman if the accused fails to show up.
Bail is granted if money is paid, while a bail bond can only be created if an agent agrees to take responsibility for the bail amount obligation of the accused. Bail is refundable, while bail bond fee is not. The bail bond fee is significantly less than the bail amount.