Bail Glossary

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This glossary contains commonly used terms and phrases used by the bail bond industry.

Bail Conditions

Conditions may be applied to a bail bond, and can vary depending upon the type of bail, the restriction of the court, and the bail bond agreement. One necessary condition of bail is the obligation to appear for all court proceedings. Other common conditions may be limited travel, continued employment, regular check-ins with the bail agent, or the requirement to attend court mandated classes or treatments. Failure to comply with bail conditions is not an offense, but may lead to the defendant being arrested and surrendered back to the court, where he or she will be remanded to custody.

Bail Agreements

This is the contract that exists between the indemnitor(s) and the bail agent. The agreement generally includes the following: the name and contact information of the indemnitor, the date the bail bond was executed, the bond amount, the criminal charge(s), and the court in which the defendant is required to appear. Upon signing this agreement, the indemnitor is assuming the responsibility for ensuring that the defendant appears for all of his or her court appearances. The agreement also states that if the defendant fails to comply with the conditions of the bail bond, the collateral placed as security for the bond may be seized by the bond agency in order to pay the bail amount to the court in the event of forfeiture. The signature of the indemnitor is required to make this agreement binding.

Surety Bonds

A surety bond is a contract among three parties; the defendant, the court, and the bail agent. A bail bond is a type of surety bond used to secure the release from custody of a person charged with a criminal offense. The defendant or indemnitor will pay a premium in exchange for the bail bonding company’s financial strength to extend surety credit. In the event of a forfeiture of the bond, the bonding company will pay the forfeiture, and will turn to the defendant or indemnitor for reimbursement.

Bond Indemnitor

A bond indemnitor is also known as a co-signer or guarantor. As the bond indemnitor, you are responsible to the court and to the bail agent for the defendant’s adherence to the contract agreement and conditions. Bond indemnitors are often family members or friends of the defendant. A bond indemnitor takes full responsibility for the defendant’s appearance in court, and will often be asked to pledge collateral or security to guarantee the appearance. Failure to comply with these conditions may result in the forfeiture of the premium payment as well as the pledged collateral.

Skipping Bail

This term is used when a defendant leaves the jurisdiction of the court, or commits any other act, in order to avoid a required court appearance after a bail bond has been posted on his or her behalf. Typically, the court will issue a bench warrant for the defendant’s arrest following the missed court appearance and bail is forfeited at a specific time period thereafter.

Appeal Bonds

An appeal bond is also known as a “Supersedeas Bond.” This is a type of surety bond that a court requires from an appellant who wants to delay payment of a judgment or sentence until the appeal is over.

Collateral

A bail bond company will often require collateral in addition to the premium that is being paid for a bail bond. Collateral is anything of resale value that is used to secure the amount of the bail bond, such as cars, jewelry, boats, computers, firearms, or the equity in your home. In some cases, the collateral will remain in the secure possession of the bail agent until the defendant’s case has been concluded. Collateral is returned after charges are dropped, sentence is determined, or innocence has been proven.

Removing Bond Liabilities

This is also referred to as “exoneration” or “discharge” of the bail bond. The liability of a bail bond is removed once all of the terms have been satisfied, which includes attendance at all court proceedings. The defendant is still responsible for any fines or penalties associated with the case. Upon court verification of the discharge of the bail bond, the bail agent will typically return items that were pledged as collateral, unless outstanding premium or other payments are due.

Withdrawal of Bail

The primary condition of a bail bond is the requirement to appear in court, however other conditions may be stipulated by the court or the bondsman such as completion of a treatment program, checking in with the bondsman regularly, or maintaining employment. If information becomes available that would indicate the defendant’s intent to flee the court, or if certain conditions of the bond are not being met, the bail bond can be withdrawn and the defendant will be returned to custody. Also, if the defendant poses a threat to the community or commits another crime while out on bond, the court may deny or withdraw the existing bail bond.