General Bail Information

Once a person has been arrested and booked for a state or federal crime, he/she has five possible options release options pending the conclusion of his/her case: own recognizance (O.R.), release on citation ("Cite Out"), property bond, cash bond and surety bond. Bail bonds are designed to guarantee that the defendant will show up in court as directed by the judge. There are only two release options for people seeking immigration bonds. Click here for more information on immigration bonds.

Very few people are released on their own recognizance or cited out, which leave only the cash, property and surety bond options for most. Because many people do not have adequate property or cash to post as bail, they normally choose the surety bond through a licensed bail agent (bail bondsman).

The posting of bail bonds involves a contractual undertaking guaranteed by a bail bondsman and the individual cosigning and posting bail (indemnitor) whereby the bail bondsman guarantees to the court that the defendant will appear in court as directed by the judge at each appointed date and time.

For this service, the defendant is charged a percentage of the bail amount (typically 10%, but up to 15% for federal bonds). Before being released the defendant or, more typically, a relative or friend of the defendant, contacts a bail bondman to arrange for the posting of bail. Prior to the posting of a bail bond, the indemnitor must guarantee that he/she will pay the full amount of bail if the defendant does not appear in court.

Typically, the indemnitor is a family member or a close friend of the defendant. Collateral (property owned by the indemnitor that is used to financially secure the bond) is not always required for a person to be bailed from jail. Often a person can be bailed from jail on just the indemnitor's signature. Indemnitor's typically need to be working and either own or rent a home in the same area for some time.

On your first visit with a bail bondsman for a state or federal bond, be sure to bring the following information about the defendant:

The list of items to bring for immigration bonds significantly differs. Click here for more information on immigration bonds.

Once bail is posted the amount of time it takes for the defendant to be released from jail depends on whether he/she was booked in a city jail, county jail or federal facility. If the defendant is booked (i.e., fingerprinted, photographed, warrants checked, etc.) in a city jail, it typically takes 15 minutes to 1 hour to be released on bail. County jails, however, take longer. It normally takes 2 to 8 hours and sometimes up to 24 hours to be released on bail after the defendant is booked.

Premiums paid for bail bonds are not refundable and upon the release of the defendant are fully earned. You are no longer liable for the defendant's bond when he/she has completes all of their court appearences, and when all premiums have been paid. It is best to contact the agent when the bond is exonerated by the court, for the fast return of any collateral pledged and to confirm that the bond is exonerated.

Before you sign any contracts with any bail bondsman, be sure to: