While lawyers and judges are the ultimate legal experts, of course, I believe that every citizen should take the time to learn a little about law for several reasons. First, it is important to know your rights, and knowing them can come in handy if anyone ever accuses you of a crime you didn't commit or threatens you legally in another other way. Second, learning about your local, state, and federal laws can help you act as a better citizen. When election time comes around, you can then truly understand ever change in law being proposed by a candidate and whether it benefits society or not. I plan to share posts about law topics explained in plain English on my new blog, so you can come back often to sharpen your legal knowledge!
As opposed to cash bonds, which the defendant puts up in full, a surety bond involves the defendant getting a loan to cover the bail. Surety bail bonds offer an option for defendants who can't pay their bond in full. Read our overview to learn more about surety bonds and if they make an appropriate solution for you.
How Surety Bonds Work
Surety court bonds involve three parties: the defendant (obligee), the contractor/bail bondsman (principal), and the surety lender.
The defendant calls the contractor from jail, describing the circumstances of their arrest and the bond amount. The contractor will accept or decline the case. If the contractor accepts the case, the defendant will need to pay 10% upfront. Some contractors will also require collateral in case the defendant fails to appear at a court appearance. The contractor will then secure funds from a surety lender. With funds in hand, the contractor will pay the bail.
The defendant repays the contractor as agreed. The defendant will communicate with the contractor and not the surety lender directly. If the defendant can't pay, they may accumulate fees or default on the loan.
If the defendant fails to appear in court, the contractor will forfeit the bail. The contractor will repossess the defendant's collateral and leave the defendant to face the court alone.
Other Types of Surety Bonds
While we are discussing bail bonds through a criminal court lens, several types of surety court bonds exist, including:
Are Surety Bail Bonds Legal in Every State?
The majority of states allow private bail bond services, but there are some exceptions.
See the following states that prohibit commercial bail bond services:
The laws vary from state to state, but many allow defendants to take out a loan through the government if they can't pay bail. Other states go by the 10% rule, meaning bail is low enough that people shouldn't need a bail bond.
After an arrest, detainees need to get back to work and personal responsibilities, especially with the new financial burden of court costs and court fees. A surety bail bond can give someone the freedom they need to start paving a new path.