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What’s the Difference Between Bond and Bail Anyway?

Posted by Phoenix Criminal Defense Attorney Nick Alcock:

So you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being arrested for a crime and booked into jail. You’ll soon be carted before the judge who gets to decide the terms and conditions of your bail order. This can be a confusing concept for many, even if you consume a fair amount of criminal news. Some individuals are “bonded out” while others are “bailed out.” The two terms start to look interchangeable, as though they both mean the same thing. While they both have the same effect, temporary freedom, they’re actually different. The difference between bond and bail is a subtle one, but it ultimately comes down to the source of the money.

If the judge considers you a threat to society, most probably your bail will be denied, and you cannot be released. You will be “remanded” into police custody. If the judge allows for your release, a bond order has to be granted. There are two types of bonds – secured and unsecured. A secured bond means that you actually pay money or bail property to secure your release. An unsecured bond or surety bond means you sign a document that says you will pay a certain amount of money if the defendant breaks his/her bond conditions.

In some rare cases a defendant can be released “on his own recognizance.” Otherwise, cash, property, and surety bonds are ordered in most of the bail-bond cases. Cash bonds, generally referred to as “bail,” are the payment made in cash to the court. Property bonds offer the title to a defendant’s own property, which will be forfeited in the event of non-compliance. And the last, surety bond, generally referred to as “bond”, is the one when a third party agrees to be responsible for the debt or obligation of the defendant.

Bail is the monetary amount a defendant must pay to secure his release. If he fails to appear at a specified time, he forfeits that amount. If the defendant or his family pays bail, he’s been bailed out of jail. But many criminal defendants don’t have the funds required to make bail. This is where bonds come in. Bonds are bail monies paid by a bail bond company. The defendant secures a loan with collateral, such as a car or house. He also pays a set fee, usually 10% of the bail amount. The bail bondsman then pays the court a portion of the bail monies and guarantees that the rest will be paid if the defendant disappears. Courts accept this as assurance because the defendant loses his property if he flees.

If you have any questions whatsoever for one of our Phoenix Criminal Defense Attorneys at Alcock & Associates, please give us a call today for a free consultation right over the phone. 602-989-5000.

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Alcock & Associates P.C.
2 North Central Avenue, 26th Floor
Phoenix AZ 85004