Frequently Asked Questions

To familiarize yourself with bail bonds and related information, please browse through the frequently asked questions below.

What is bail?

Bail is the temporary release of an accused person awaiting trial; made through a money payment or property which is given as surety that a person released from custody will return at an appointed time. Shall the accused person not appear at trial, the money from bail can be seized and forfeited by the court.

What is a bail bond?

The accused person can leave jail until their court date if they are able to make bail. Since not all individuals can come up with the full bail amount, many chose to get a bail bond through a bondsman or bail bonding agency. A bail bond covers the bail needed to get the accused person out of jail. The bail bond usually comes at a charge of 10% to the accused person or individual who is bailing out the accused. The bondsman pays the full amount to the court, and gets the entire amount back if the accused person shows up to their court dates. The risk of the accused person not showing up is accounted for in the 10% fee the bondsmen charge. If the accused person shows up to all their court dates, the bondsman receives back the full amount. The accused person who took out the bail bond does not get their 10% back. The 10% bail bond fee is taken in as profit for the bail bond agency in this case.

What are some bail bonds statistics and trends?

  • 80% of jailed New Yorkers can’t afford $1,000 in bail on small misdemeanor chargers.
  • Those who can’t obtain a bail bond are 90% likely to plead guilty.
  • Only 40% plead guilty if they can afford a bail bond.
  • Those that can’t afford a bail bond spend an average of 15 days in jail.
  • With a bail bond, 88% get their case dismissed or resolved without a criminal record.
  • Only 38% see their case dismissed or resolved with no record if they can’t afford the bail bond.

To see more information and a nice visual, take a look at our Bail Bonds Infographic with Data and Statistics.

What is a Bail Recovery Agent?

Bail Recovery Agents are also known as bounty hunters. If the accused person does not show up to court, the Bail Recovery Agent tries to track down the accused person. Once tracked down, they ensure the accused person appears on their court dates. If the accused person does not show up to court, the Bail Bond company risks losing the money it put down to release the individual from jail. Bail Recovery Agents are legally allowed to track down their “clients” in order to ensure they appear in court.

Can I get my bail money back?

Yes, you can normally get your bail money back no matter if you are convicted or acquitted of your charges. This applies if you pay for the entire bail and do not use a bail bond. If you get a bail bond, the bondsmen will get their full amount back, but you can not get back the 10% premium that is charged. You may wonder if you get your bail money back if the charges are dropped, you are innocent, or if your case is dismissed – the same answer applies. If you pay using your own money, you will get the full amount back no matter if you are guilty or innocent – the refund is based on you showing up to court. If you used a bail bondsman, you cannot get your 10% fee back no matter if you are guilty or not, or if you showed up to court.

Why should I get a bail bond if I have the money readily available?

First of all, depending on your crime, your bail might be significantly higher than what you have available to spend. In the case your bail is not high and you can pay for it, it sometimes makes more sense to take out a bail bond so you can use your money for other needs. The fee for a bail bond is normally 10%, which is not an outrageous amount. It often makes more sense to have sufficient funds in your bank account than to risk taking out a lot of cash and not have enough to support yourself.

Is there any way I can get the 10% back from the bail bond agency?

No. This is the service fee the agency charges; it is called Premium. Bail bondsmen take on risk and have to do a variety of things to make this work. The 10% fee is simply a way for them to stay in business. It can not be refunded.

When you post bail, what happens to the money?

Where does the bail money go after you post bail? That’s a great question. The court holds the money until the person shows up to court. The money is returned by the court to the person who paid the bail amount if there are no issues with the person showing up to court. If the person skips court, the money is forfeited and the court gets to keep the amount. The money is usually distributed to the court and law enforcement agencies depending on how the local regulation is written.

Do I have to use a bail bondsman?

No, anyone can technically “bail you out.” You can bail yourself out, or you can use a friend, family member, or anyone else who has the funds and is willing to bail you out.

What is a Property Bond?

Instead of using cash as bail, one can use property to bail out an individual. Property bonds are not allowed in all states. Check your state’s laws before pursuing this option. Property bonds can be useful in cases where cash is not an option. Regular bail bonds still require a 10% premium payment, which in some cases may still be too much for those who are cash poor. A property bond utilizes the equity people have in their house, commercial building, or vacation home to assure the court the accused person will be present on their scheduled court date(s). If the accused individual does not appear in front of court, then the property is at risk of being in the court’s hands. Property bonds are a good way of making bail if an individual has equity in their property but very little or no cash.

What if I don’t have money for bail?

Many people get stuck in a situation where they cannot afford the 10% bail bond fee. In that case, even a bail bond may not be financially possible. Let’s assume your bail bond is set at $10,000. This means you have to come up with $1,000 for your 10% of the bail bond. You will not get this money back so it presents a real financial burden. You can choose to stay in jail until your court date and avoid incurring any costs. The issue with that is that you may lose your job or school eligibility which would further set you back long term. It’s vital to obtain the financial resources to be released to avoid further damage to ones career or whatever daily responsibilities they may hold in their life. There are three general options for those that cannot afford the 10% bail bond fee.

  • Ask a friend or loved one to borrow the money to cover the fee. This can present it’s own problems if you are unable to pay them back.
  • Look into bail funds to sponsor you and cover your 10% bail bond fee at no charge. Charitable bail funds are limited to certain states although more are introduced on a regular basis due to the sheer need. Visit our page on bail reform for a list of charities that you can reach out to and to learn more about the growing pain and need for bail bond changes so nobody is left behind.
  • Obtain a loan to cover you in the short term and allow you to make payments. Our page on bail bond financing and emergency loans will guide you through the application process.

How much does bail cost for different crimes?
How much the bail amount is set to varies on the crime committed. Misdemeanors carry a much lower bail amount compared to felony charges. A person’s age, prior criminal history, and record of showing up to court can all play a role in the bail amount set. Some crimes have a standard bail amount that is set while others are reviewed by a judge for more flexibility. See our list of bail amounts per crime to determine how much you may pay for bail.

How long does it take to get out of jail after posting bail?
It typically takes 2 to 6 hours to get out of jail after posting bail. After you arrive at jail, you need to go through photographs, fingerprinting, and the jail needs to input all your information. This process typically takes 1-3 hours. You will then be able to make a phone call to a bail bondsman or a friend or family member. Bail will be posted and it can take as little as 1-2 hours if the jail is small and not busy. However, it can take 4-6 hours if the jail is busy.

Can you leave the state on bail bond?
After posting bail, you can typically leave the state and travel freely if you paid for the bail bond with your own money or the money from someone besides a bail bondsman. There are some cases where the court may limit you from traveling but those cases are rare. No matter what you method of payment was for the bail bond, any court order takes priority so make sure that you know what the terms of your release are. If you were released from jail on a bail bond from a bondsman, you may have a contract with the bondsman that states you are not allowed to leave the state. If you break that contract and leave the state, then you can be arrested.

What does bond surrender mean?
When a person is out on bail before their court date, the person who paid for the bail bond can “surrender” the person they bailed out by returning them to jail. There are a number of reasons this could occur. The bail bondsman or whoever paid for the bail bond may feel uncertain about the person showing up for court so they may want to limit their risk and surrender the person back to the jail. Each bail bondsman can have a contract in place with the person they bail out which typically includes terms on scheduled check-ins with the bondsman and possibly other requirements until the court date. Likewise, a friend or relative who bails someone out may have their own financial limitations or they are no longer in a pleasant relationship with the person they bailed out. They may “surrender” the person for any of these reasons in order to get their money back.

Can I get a free bail bond?
You can avoid the 10% bail bondsman fee if you pay for the bond yourself or have a friend or relative pay for your bail bond and not charge you any interest fees. While this technically makes the bail bond free, there can still be some non-refundable administrative fees to cover the paper work and processing.