State and Federal Bonds

State Bonds are also commonly referred to as appearance bonds, which translates to an assurance to the court that the defendant will appear at all court proceedings. Appearance bonds are good for one year. If the case continues longer than a year, an additional premium is due and is collected for each additional year. These bonds are set by a judge or magistrate of the county or circuit court where the accused is being held pending trial. Bail amounts for a particular case are normally set according to a county Bail Schedule (aka Schedule of Bail for All Bailable Offenses) and the particulars of a case. The Bail Schedule itself is typically set on an annual basis by a majority vote of superior, municipal, and other judges.

Bail bonds for crimes in U.S. District courts are called federal bonds. Federal Bonds are essentially a combination of performance and appearance bonds set by a Federal Judge or Magistrate of the US Government pending trial. As previously discussed, appearance bonds are assurance to the court that the defendant will appear in court whenever directed by the judge. Performance bonds assure the court that the defendant will conform to all conditions of the release.

The judge or magistrate sets conditions of release, which include the bail amount (there is no schedule of bail amounts for individual federal offenses) and sometimes can include the ELMO (Electronic Monitoring) program. The ELMO program is administered either by the local Pre-Trial Services Agency or the local law enforcement agency. This device is usually in the form of an ankle bracelet. It sets off an alarm if a person strays too far from its base located within the defendant's home.

Federal bonds are normally more expensive than state bonds. Premiums for federal bonds can be as high as 15% rather than the customary 10% for state bonds. Like state bonds, federal bonds are subject to forfeiture should the defendant miss any court appointments. The forfeiture dates are set by the court, and forfeiture bonds are paid to the U.S. government rather than the local courts. You will need a bail bondsman experienced with federal bonds if the defendant was arrested for any interstate crime or other federal offense.

Immigration bonds are a form of federal bond, but they work differently. Click here for more information on immigration bonds.