Bail bonds can be confusing and tricky when you have never dealt with them before from choosing what type of bond to get to understand the various terms and phrases that go along with a contract. If you are feeling overwhelmed with the various legal terms you are coming across and need a quick overview, consider this your cheat sheet!
When a judge sets bond, what they are doing is setting a price in which to negotiate the release of the defendant from jail while awaiting their hearing. This is essentially a contract that promises that if the cost of the bond is paid and if the defendant returns to all their scheduled court hearings, then they are able be free from confinement until their hearing and eventually the bond cost will be reimbursed if paid through the courts.
Forfeiture is what happens when the bond contract is broken and the defendant fails to show up to their scheduled court hearing. This is not an instant judgement and the defendant does have a small window to get in contact and reschedule but otherwise the bond cost will no longer be refundable and the judge at that point will issue an arrest warrant for the defendant’s arrest.
Indemnitor’s are also known as co-signers. They are loved ones who help get a bond approved by pledging financial responsibility for the defendant should they not show to their hearing. It is incredibly important that indemnitors truly understand the impact of this because if for any reason the defendant runs, it can be a massive hit to the indemnitor’s finances.
Surety bonds are obtained through a bail bondsman and are one of the only types that don’t go directly through the courts. This is because the bail bond agency will work with the courts on your behalf and in turn be able to offer a much lower cost to be released. A surety bond works like insurance where you only need to come up with about 10% and the agency covers the rest. The catch with all this however is that this 10% is not refundable and if the defendant flees, they will not only be running from the courts but from recovery agents as well.
Bail conditions, also known and bond conditions are a set of rules handed down by the judge as part of the deal to be released. These conditions are pretty straightforward with conditions that restrict travel for obvious reasons and avoiding drugs and alcohol. They can also be more tailored to the defendant with things like counseling or mandatory check-ins and drug tests as well.
Defendant is the official term used for someone who has been arrested and officially charged with a crime. The defendant is called this because the job of their lawyer ( or sometimes they may represent themselves) is to defend their case against the charges that courts are bringing forward to obtain an innocent verdict.
This is just a small pool of the terms you may see while going through the arrest process but usually the most common when it comes to bail bonds. While this may help with the basics, if there are any further questions, you should always just ask your bail bondsman and they will be more than happy to further explain anything you are unsure about.