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Bail Bondsman

Forms of bail used

In the United States there are several forms of bail used, these vary from jurisdiction, but the common forms of bail include:

  1. Recognizance - when an accused is released on recognizance, he or she promises to the court to attend all required judicial proceedings and will not engage in illegal activity or other prohibited conduct as set by the court. Typically a monetary amount is set by the court, but is not paid by the defendant unless the court orders it forfeited. This is called an unsecured appearance bond or release on one's own recognizance.
  2. Citation Release also known as Cite Out - This procedure involves the issuance of a citation by the arresting officer to the arrestee, informing the arrestee that he or she must appear at an appointed court date. Cite Outs usually occur immediately after an individual is arrested and no financial security is taken.
  3. Surety Bond - by a surety bond, a third party agrees to be responsible for the debt or obligation of the defendant. In many jurisdictions this service is provided commercially by a bail bondsman, where the agent will receive 10% of the bail amount up front and will keep that amount regardless of whether the defendant appears in court. The court in many jurisdictions, especially jurisdictions that prohibit bail bondsmen, may demand a certain amount of the total bail (typically 10%) be given to the court, which, unlike with bail bondsmen, is returned if the defendant does not violate the conditions of bail. This is also known as surety on the bond. The bail agent guarantees to the court that they will pay the forfeited bond if a defendant fails to appear for their scheduled court appearances, so the third party must have adequate assets to satisfy the face value of the bond. In turn, the Bond Agency charges a premium for this service and usually requires collateral from a guarantor. The bail agent then posts a bond for the amount of the bail, to guarantee the arrestee's return to court.
  4. Property Bond - the accused or a person acting on his behalf pledges real property having a value at least equal to the amount of the bail. If the principal fails to appear for trial the state can levy or institute foreclosure proceedings against the property to recover the bail. Used in rare cases and in certain jurisdictions. Often, the equity of the property must be twice the amount of the bail set.
  5. Cash - typically "cash-only," where the only form of bail that the Court will accept is cash. Cash bond requires an individual to post the total amount of the bail in cash. The court holds this money until the case is concluded. Full cash bonds provide a powerful incentive for defendants to appear at trial. If the defendant does not appear as instructed, the cash bond is forfeited and a bench warrant is issued. If the defendant shows up for his/her scheduled court appearances, the cash is returned to him/her. In this case, the defendant may be his or her own guarantor.
  6. Combinations - courts often allow defendants to post cash bail or bond, and then impose further conditions, as mentioned below, to protect the community or ensure attendance.
  • Conditions of release - many varied non-monetary conditions and restrictions on liberty can be imposed by a court to ensure that a person released into the community will appear in court and not commit any more crimes. Common examples include: mandatory calls to the police, surrendering passports, home detention, electronic monitoring, drug testing, alcohol counseling, surrendering firearms.
  • Protective order also called an 'order of protection'- one very common feature of any conditional release, whether on bail, bond or condition, is a court order requiring the defendant to refrain from criminal activity against the alleged crime victim, or stay away from and have no contact with the alleged crime victim. The former is a limited order, the latter a full order. Violation of the order can subject the defendant to automatic forfeiture of bail and further fine or imprisonment.

All text of this article available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License (see Copyrights for details).


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