Every now and then, you hear on the news that someone got arrested. It is followed by a statement that they were released on so and so bail and will return to the court in three weeks. But, what is bail and what does it do? If defendants have already been released on bail, then why do they have to return to court?

You have ignored what you heard on the news so far, but when you or a loved one gets arrested, these questions become urgent and you require an answer. Here is a complete guide that can help you understand everything about bail and bail bonds:


If anyone is arrested due to suspicion of a crime, they are taken to jail for booking by the law enforcement agents. In this process, their mug shot is taken along with their fingerprints and they are also asked to make a statement. Then, you are held in jail until your day in court arrives. You will only be allowed to leave if your bail is posted.

What is Bail?

In simple terms, bail is a financial arrangement that’s made on behalf of the defendant by a bail bonding company. This agency acts for the defendant and gets them released from jail by making an arrangement with the court. It allows the defendant to be released until the trial in exchange for money or for collateral, which can be in the form of assets, cash or a bond. The monetary value of the bail is determined by the court.

Now, it has become the responsibility of the bail company to ensure that the defendant arrives in court on the day of their trial. If they don’t show up for their hearing, a bounty hunter can be hired by the agency to go look for them. It is essential to bear in mind that US is one of the only countries in the world where bounty hunting is still legal. Thus, it means that the bond is a surety that the complete bail amount will be paid, but there are some courts that agree to release a suspect either on a 10% down payment or the entire bond.

How Bail Bonds and Bondsmen Work?

A bail bondsman works for a bail bonding company will pay a fee for getting the criminal defendant released on bail. At this time, a fee is charged by the bondsman, which is typically 10% of the amount needed to pay the bail. This initial fee will not be refunded, even if the case is later thrown out. The cost of the bail is usually covered by the bondsman by taking out security on the assets of the defendant.

In the case where the defendant’s assets cannot cover the bail, the bondsman gets in touch with relatives and friends for taking out securities. This is when the bondsman will take 10% cash payment. If the defendant doesn’t appear in court, a bounty hunter can be hired and the defendant can also be sued by the bondsman for the money given to the court as their bail bond.