Bail Bonds 101: The Essential Guide

Court appearances can be a very stressful time for both the individual and the families of those appearing in court. To add to the trauma of being arrested, an unexpected amount of money is now also demanded in order for the defendant to avoid going to jail whilst awaiting their court appearance.

Bail bonds can help to alleviate some of the stress associated with this process. Bail bonds are used to secure the freedom of defendants in between court appearances by putting up the money for bail, leaving money in the pockets of close friends and family. Knowing about the option of bail bonds is important to keep your loved from going behind bars when they don’t need to, and saving yourself having to pay with your own money.

Here, we present to you an ultimate guide to bail bonds. What they are, how exactly they work, what to do if you or your loved one get arrested, and some facts to keep handy in case you get stuck in a tricky situation.

Bail bonds can help you or a loved one get out of jail fast.


First of all, let’s define the term “bail”. When a suspect is in custody and awaiting a court hearing, they may be released on payment of a sum of agreed money to the court. This occurs after the arrest and prior to their court date. Once the accused appears in court, the money is released back to the hands of the party which paid it. This practice and release fee, which varies from state to state in the US, is called bail.

A bail bond agency is a company which pledges money as a surety that a person accused in court will appear at the next court date. Banks and other loan institutions very rarely (if at all) provide money for bail; however, bail bond agencies are in the business of taking on this particular risk and responsibility to help the accused.

The friends and family of the accused will usually work with a bail bondsman in order to secure the release of the defendant in just a few hours after bail has been set.


Bail bonds are not common practice worldwide. In fact, the USA and Philippines are some of the only places you’ll find this assistance. In the US, the only states where you will not find bail bonds are Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Washington, DC.

How bail works and the amount the bail is set as is determined by the court in your particular state. Some states have set lists which the judge works from to determine the correct bail amount for the type of crime committed. Other states will allow the judge to set the amount as per the predicted flight risk of the accused and a combination of other factors.

Who has the right to Bail?

Any person which has been charged with a non-capital crime is generally entitled to bail. Different states have different laws, which apply to keep those accused of violent crimes in custody until their court hearing if they are deemed a flight risk or continual danger to the public. However, for everyone else accused of a crime, bail should be set and not denied. It’s just the amount that will vary.

Bail bond agents can provide the financing you need to pay bail money quickly.


Once a person is arrested, they will be given a hearing date and a set amount for their bail. It’s now up to them and their friends and/or family to pay for their release in between arrest and court dates. A bail bondsman can step in to help here as third party.

Once bail is posted by the bail bondsman, it’s then a matter of ensuring the accused turns up at all necessary court appearances. If the accused skips bail, the bondsman will turn bounty hunter and seek out the accused to return them to court. There is usually a grace period where the accused can be returned to court and the bail money re-released back to the bondsman. The bounty hunter will aim to find and return the accused to court within this grace period.

If the accused does skip bail and doesn’t return, the money as put up by the bail bonds agency, will be taken by the courts. The collateral acting as security for this bail bond will be taken over by the agency from the friend/family acting for the accused. This is why it’s so important that the defendant appears in court, and everyone works together to ensure they follow legal processes necessary.


Cash Bond

The simplest type of payment, the accused pays the full Bail amount to the courts in cash, sometimes by check or credit card if accepted by the particular county court.

Federal Bail Bond

If the defendant has been accused of a federal or interstate crime, a federal bail bond must be posted for release. There is usually a higher fee and extra collateral needed for these types of bail. Federal crimes include fraudkidnappingbank robbery, and hate crimes etc.

Surety Bond

surety bond is what we are predominantly referring to in this article. This is a third-party agent stepping in to pay the bail bond for the accused should they fail to appear in court

Citation Release

A citation release is simply a written notice given by the arresting officer, whereby the accused is allowed to go home and is not taken to jail following their arrest. They must simply show up in court. This is usually given for minor crimes.

Property Bond

In this case, a property is put up in lieu of cash, and the courts may seize the property should the defendant fail to appear in court.

Personal Recognizance Release

This type of release is usually granted if the accused is not deemed a danger to the community or a flight risk, and generally applies to those who are accused of committing minor crimes. They do not have to pay any bail money.

Immigration Bail Bond

This type of bond refers to those detained for immigration reasons, which is the main difference of this type of bond and works the same way as the surety bond above. It’s usually set a little higher than most bail amounts due to the federal nature of the crime.

Working with a bail bond agent can spare you the discomfort of spending the night behind the bars.


Step 1: Call a bail bonds agent.

If you or your loved one has been arrested, and you do not have the money or the assets to post bail, it’s time to call a bail bond agent. The information you’ll need includes:

  1. The full name of the person arrested.
  2. Which jail they are in.
  3. Their booking or report number.
  4. The charges they are accused of.
  5. Any extra information you can gather regarding this arrest.

Step 2: The paperwork.

The bail bond agent will need you to sign some paperwork in order for you to secure their services. This usually means paying an amount to the agent, usually a percentage of the total bail amount, and signing off on any collateral for the bond.

Step 3: Posting bail.

The bail bond agent will usually meet you at the jail to post the bail for release of your loved one.

Step 4: Release from jail.

Depending on how crowded the jail is in your area, the process of posting bail can take anywhere from half and hour to a few hours.


Now that the accused has been released from jail, it’s important to ensure that they appear at the next court date and meet the conditions of their bail. Here are a few tips to ensure they don’t jump bail:

  • Keep them feeling positive and happy to lower their flight risk.

  • Have a strong relationship with the accused, particularly during this time. Check-in with them often so they do not feel alone

  • Distract them from hanging out with bad influences, which may have got them in the situation in the first place.

  • Provide the bail bond agent with as much information about the accused as possible; should they skip bail, they can be more easily found.

  • Understand the details of the case and the consequences, should the accused not attend court. Ensure the accused also knows these well!

If the defendant does not turn up for court, the bail bond agent will have to pay the courts the full bail amount as agreed. The agent will then attempt to find the defendant and bring them to court to get this money back within an agreed time (usually 90 days). If there was collateral signed over to the bail bond agent, then this will also be taken. However, sticking to the bail conditions and showing for court will ensure none of this happens.

Remember, it’s in everyone’s best interest (including the accused) to make sure your friend or family member appears in court on the set date.


Paying bail can affect your credit score if you are not careful. If you put the full bail amount on credit card, pay the bail bond agent fees on credit card, or take out a personal loan then this can affect your credit score. Likewise, if you fail to pay the bail bond agency fees and your fees go to a debt collector, then you credit rating will be lowered. To avoid this, ensure to pay any fees as due and if posting bail out of your own pocket, make sure you have the money on hand should the defendant fail to appear in court.
Even if the courts do grant you permission to leave the state, permission will also need to be obtained from the bail bondsman. You have a contractual obligation here, where you may not be allowed to leave your state until the court case is over. Check your terms and conditions for details.
If you don’t have the money to pay a cash deposit of around 10-15% for the bail bond, there are other creative ways to secure it. You can sign off on different types of collateral such as propertyjewelryelectronics, and credit cards in some cases.
Using a bail bondsman means you don’t have to put up your own hard-earned money for bail, should the accused not turn up to court. And if they do fail to appear, then the bail bondsman has the resources to find them and return them to court to appear. Trying to do this yourself can be difficult, time-consuming, and emotional. Whilst a bail agent will be able to swiftly find the accused and ensure no money is lost to courts for failure to appear by the defendant.
If you have paid in full for the bail of the defendant, and they have appeared at all necessary court hearings, then you will receive your money back. If you have enlisted the help of a bail bond agent, then you needn’t worry about anything but the collateral, which you put up as security for the bail amount to be paid to court.


Bail Bonds DIRECT is a professional bail bonds corporation with licensed bail bondsmen available 24 hours a day throughout Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County, Ventura County, San Diego County, and San Bernardino County. Bail Bonds DIRECT offers fast and easy bail solutions to individuals in need of assistance.

We are here to help our clients with a simple and fast process that eliminates the headaches and delays usually associated with this stressful time. Our service only takes 30 minutes over the phone and is available now. Follow our blog to learn more about all things bail bonds, or contact us today to chat with an agent.