An Author Needs to Know
About the Police and the Law
What is the difference between bond and bail?
The difference between bond and bail is a subtle one. Defendants who immediately secure their release with money are considered bailed out. Defendants who secure their release with collateral (property or a promise to pay) are bonded out. The amount needed is set by a judge and is called a bond. Let’s say the judge set your bond at $5000. You can pay the bond at the bond window at the jail and thus bail yourself out. If you post your own bond, you get it back when your case is resolved. Well, you will get back what’s left of it after they deduct all the court fees and fines. If you don’t have enough money to post bond, you can try a bail bondsman. He/she will require collateral, and they charge a 10% premium to write the bond, so in your case above you will need to give him/her $500 cash, which you will lose. The bondsman will then pay your bond in full and you will be set free. Most accept houses, land, and bank accounts. Most do not accept cars, motorcycles or jewelry. But there are exceptions. If you skip out on a bondsman, he will send a bounty hunter after your butt. I’ve seen situations where grandma’s house was put up for the bond and then the creep grandson skips town. Or sometimes the church will get involved and post bond for one of its parishioners. It’s a sad day when the Lord Almighty gets stiffed.
As I said only a judge can set the bond amount. In most cases, not to include serious felonies, you will get to appear before a judge within 24 hours of being arrested. Often that happens while you’re still in the jail and it’s done via a TV hookup. Bond hearings are held every day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
What happens if you can’t afford to post bond? You stay in jail until your case is heard. Sometimes your lawyer can get a bond reduction hearing if the initial bond is high. You are entitled to reasonable bond. At that hearing though you will have to convince the judge that you are not a flight risk, that you will appear when summonsed, and you will not be a danger to the community. Oftentimes the court will ask for your passport. You only have one chance to reduce bond.