DEFINITION of 'Bail Bond'

A written promise signed by a defendant and surety to ensure that a criminal defendant will appear in court at the scheduled time and date, as ordered by the court. The bail amount is set by the court.


The process starts with a defendant being released on bail; the bail is paid by a surety (bail bond agent or bondsman), who usually collects a percentage of the amount of bail. In order to pay the bail, so that the defendant can be released while awaiting trial on criminal charges, the agent might require collateral in the form of valuable property, securities or a statement of creditworthiness.

BREAKING DOWN 'Bail Bond'

Bonds over $1,000 usually cost 10% of the bond. For example, if bail is set at $20,000, the premium would be $2,000. Additional fees may also be added. The goal of a bail bond is to prevent abuse of the appeal process, where the intent for appeal is for a reason other than that for which it is intended. If the defendant fails to appear in court, the cash bond is paid to the court and the collateral is collected by the bond agency, including any other related fees.

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