“Do You Get Your Bail Money Back?” 10% Bail Fee, Is Bail Premium Refundable – FAQ

Written by our team of Subject Matter Experts

Do you get bail money back - 10 percent bail fee refundable - Bail Bonds FAQ

Getting Money Back from Bail Bondsman, and Bail Money Refunds!

Do you get bail money back? Is Bail Money Refundable?

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 – this amount is non-refundable.


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. The bail premium, or 10% bail fee, is not refundable.

Can I get my 10% bail fee back?

No. This is the service fee the bail agency charges; it is called the 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 but there are still ways to get bailed out without a 10% bail bond.

The 10% premium is the fee the bail bondsman charges for risking his own money to bail you out of jail. Just like the premium you pay on your car insurance policy, it is not refunded if you don’t wreck your car. A bail bond is a form of insurance that is used to guarantee the appearance of a defendant in a criminal court proceeding. In fact, in many states, bail bondsmen are regulated by the state’s insurance commission.

Frequently Asked Bail Bonds Questions

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.

While it is impossible to guarantee bail in states where the bond is set by a judge or magistrate, in most cases, you will have the opportunity to bail yourself out of jail. The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees one’s right to bail and says that the bail amount shall not be excessive (or too high). It states “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

Because of the Eighth Amendment and the judicial principle that a person is “innocent until proven guilty”, most states believe that a person should be given a right to bail unless certain exceptions apply. For example, in Virginia, there is a statutory presumption that a person should be released from jail pending trial unless certain criteria make that person exempt. The criteria that would make a suspect exempt from the presumption for bail include the defendant being a clear and present danger to the victim or community, a flight risk or has committed certain crimes laid out by that state.

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 choose 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 is a bailee?

A bailee is the person who has secured their release from jail through the use of a bail bondsman or other surety. This is a legal term most commonly seen in rulings by the United States Supreme Court, or the Supreme Court of a specific state, that have set the binding legal precedent behind a bail bondsman’s authority over the person they have bailed out of jail. It is unlikely you will encounter this term in common discourse, but you may see it used when researching laws, legal precedents, and other administrative codes that govern bail bondsmen and the bail bonding profession.

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” to ensure they appear in court. Due to an 1873 U.S. Supreme Court decision, bail bondsmen and their agents have sweeping rights over the person they have bonded from jail. The case, Taylor v. Taintor, is widely credited as establishing the legal precedent behind much of a bail bondsman’s authority over the suspect.

Will turning myself in for a warrant help me get bail?

In most cases, it is always advisable to turn yourself in if you find out you have a warrant for your arrest. In many smaller communities, local authorities will allow a person to turn themselves in before coming to their home or place of employment to arrest them. Turning yourself in allows you to go to jail on your terms, get your affairs in order, and choose the best timing for your set of circumstances. This doesn’t mean you should wait to turn yourself in, however it does mean if you act quickly you can put yourself in the best situation for a fast release.
By calling a bail bondsman ahead of time and letting them know you are about to turn yourself in, the bondsman can go ahead and collect the necessary information and paperwork to secure your release on a bail bond. This means that the bail bondsman can start posting your bond immediately after you turn yourself in and are booked into jail. A good bail bondsman can ensure you are released before you ever have to enter the general population area of the jail or holding facility if you alert the bondsman before your surrender.

Why bail bond if I have the money?

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.

Another key reason to use a bail bondsman is due to the length of time many court cases take before being adjudicated. A court case for something as simple as a DUI can take up to 1 or even 2 years in some cases. Many people may have the money to post their bail, but don’t want to have that money tied up for an unknown period. Instead, you can pay a fraction of the total bail amount to the bail bondsman and save the remaining money for an emergency.

When you post bail, what happens to the money?

We are often asked where the bail money goes after you post bail. The court holds the money until the person is finished with all court dates. 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 and following all court orders while out of jail.

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 regulations are written. In some cases, a case can be filed to obtain the money that was forfeited.

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. Be aware that friends and family do reserve the right to put you back in jail if they feel there is a risk of you skipping bail.

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 the bail bonds options for your state 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 low on money. 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 court, then the property is at risk of being in the hands of the court. Property bonds are a good way of making bail if an individual has equity in their property but very little or no cash.

It will take you roughly half a day to process the property bond and to get the necessary paperwork into the judge’s hands. From there, it depends on the judge how long it takes to approve the property bond. We recommend starting no later than noon if you want to finish your portion of the paperwork for a property bond the same day.

There are multiple steps involved in obtaining a property bond. First, you will want to go to the Assessor’s Office which is typically at City Hall, and obtain an Assessment Certificate for the property you want to use for the bail bond. Check with the Sheriff or Court Clerk on exact steps. You will be issued a Mortgage Certificate and Conveyance Certificate for your property. Necessary paperwork will then be prepared for you by the Court if you have enough property equity. It will then be presented to the judge to consider for bail release. No promises can be made as to how long it will take the judge to make the decision and process the property bond.

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 one’s career or whatever daily responsibilities one 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 its 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 regularly 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 the 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 your 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 several 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 of 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 paperwork and processing.

How do 0% Down Bail Bonds work?

We have created the ultimate guide on no-money down bail bonds. You will find that bail bonds agents offer anywhere from 5% down to as little as 1% or 0% down. It’s not always easy to qualify for the no-money down bail bonds, but knowing the details will help you have a better chance of landing a 0-3% bail bond. Read our full guide on 0%, 1%, 3% bail bonds in Los Angeles.

Although it covers the LA market, we go into topics that cover all situations, like how you can negotiate with your bail bondsman to get the best rate, as well as the type of questions the bail bonds agent will ask you to determine if you qualify for a 0% to 3% Down payment. Some of the things that go into consideration are criminal history and flight risk of the person being bailed out, your financial strength, any property assets you may have, and more.

It can be extremely stressful when you or your loved one ends up in jail, and not knowing how bail bonds work can add on an extra element of frustration. We have created a simple guide to help you understand exactly how bail works, both at the national level and within your state.
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To familiarize yourself with bail bonds and related information, please browse through the frequently asked questions below.

Can I get my bail money back?

How much does bail cost for different crimes?

When you post bail, what happens to the money?

Can I get my 10% fee back?

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Our guide on bail bonds amounts is comprehensive, showing bail amounts you may see for various charges, both felonies and misdemeanors. How much bail is set to can vary based on jurisdiction, criminal history, and input from the judge. Bail Bonds Network's research focuses on all these factors to help you prepare.
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Do you have a loved one who needs to be bailed out of jail but is located in another state? Learn how to bail someone out from another state. Our expertly written guide will help you understand how you can use a bail bondsman to work across state lines via transfer bonds and other means to ensure your loved one is bailed out quickly even if they were arrested in a different state from where you live.
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Before you co-sign on a bail bond, you should make yourself aware of what it means to be a cosigner, as well as the liabilities, risk, and requirements that come with co-signing. Our bail experts have compiled everything you need to know, dealing with important items like who can cosign, what application requirements are necessary, how bail forfeiture can impact you, how long you are tied to the bail bond, and when your collateral will finally be freed.
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A bounty hunter is hired by a bail bondsman to locate and arrest a person who does not show to court as agreed in their bail bond agreement. Bounty hunters are sometimes referred to as bail recovery agents.

What does a bounty hunter do?

Is a bail bondsman the same as a bounty hunter?

When does a bounty hunter come after me?

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We are the trusted source for bail bonds, as well as financial help and guidance when you cannot afford to pay for the bail bond fee. Every day, we are contacted by great people who simply want to get their loved one out of jail. Read our guide to learn more about all your options, including bail emergency loans, and bail charities who often bail out low income individuals for free.
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Our Team of Subject Matter Experts

We dedicate ourselves to providing information that is accurate and expertly written in order to assist individuals through a difficult time. Our staff at Bail Bonds Network is highly educated, having obtained prestigious degrees in law, business, accounting, and finance. Our editorial staff includes professional lawyers, bail bondsmen, and lending experts who understand local jurisdictions and intricacies of legal matters dealing with bail bonds.

Adi Dzebic
MBA, Research & Marketing
Owner of Bail Bonds Network, specializing in quality content research, analyzing bail bondsmen that are featured on our website, and general content contributions that are verified by our expert panel.
Matt C. Pinsker
Criminal Defense Attorney

An award-winning criminal defense attorney. He previously served as a state and federal prosecutor and magistrate, making his content contributions extremely relevant on legal and bail related topics.

Fred Shanks
Licensed Bail Bondsman
Fred Shanks is a licensed bail bondsman and the owner of Apex Bail Bonds. Fred is our bail expert who reviews and contributes to our content to ensure we have accurate and complete bail information.
Zlatan Dzebic
Finance / Lending Specialist
Zlatan's experience in credit and lending is vital since many important factors, such as credit history, over-leveraging, and predatory loan options can have a long term impacts when looking for financial assistance.