Bail Bonds Law and Legal Definition

A bail bond is a bond provided by an insurance company through a bail bondsman acting as agent for the company, to allow an accused defendant to be released before trial. A bail bond is designed to ensure the appearance of the defendant in court at the scheduled time. Prior to the posting of a bail bond, the defendant or a co-signer must guarantee that they will pay the full amount of bail if the defendant does not appear in court. The bail bond company usually charges 10 percent of the amount of the bond and often requires the defendant to put up some collateral like a second deed of trust or mortgage on one's house.

When the case is concluded, the bail bond is "exonerated" and returned to the insurance company. If the defendant disappears and fails to appear in court (skips bail), the bond money will be forfeited unless the defendant is found and returned. The bond may be forfeited, by order of the court, upon the party’s failure to appear or to comply with the conditions of the bond. If the defendant is located and arrested by the bail agent the cosigner is responsible for all expenses the bail agent incurs while looking for the defendant.

There are different types of bonds. Cash bonds are the full amount of the set bail given to the court to ensure compliance with future proceedings. The are sometimes called monetary bonds. Property bonds are secured by the title to a defendant's own property, which will be forfeited in the event of non-compliance. A surety bond is posted by a professional bail bonds person after paying a certain premium in exchange for guaranteeing the defendant will show up to court. Straight bail means that a person has to post the entire amount of the bail in order to be released.