Freedom is sometimes taken for granted. When it’s taken away, you realize that you should have maybe valued it more and protected it better. It’s a regret most convicts replay over and over in their minds while doing time in jail.
But fortunately there is due process before your freedom is snatched from you.
If you get arrested for a crime, you get booked in jail. You then get taken to court for a hearing where your lawyer argues why you should be released while the prosecutor argues why you should be remanded in custody. The judge hears both sides, and, depending on the nature of your crime, then decides your release on bail or bond.
If you watch a lot of crime shows, fiction and otherwise, you might think the two as one and the same. But they are not. Let’s take a look at the definition of bond first.
A bond is a guarantee by a third party, usually a bail bond agency, to make good on the bail should the defendant fail to appear. The bond company goes to the court to pay for a portion of the bail, and then guarantees to pay off the rest should you, the defendant, not show up for a hearing.
With a bond, you basically get a loan with collateral, for any valuable asset, such a car or house. You also have to pay a set fee, which might come out to 10 percent of the bail amount. For example, your bail is in the amount of $100,000, the bail bond company will charge you $10,000 for putting up your bail. And if you do skip court hearings, you risk losing your property.
The difference between bail and bond is essentially the source of the money. When you make bail, it means you have the money to pay for your release. You get the bail money back after your case is settled, and when the charges are dropped; if you are found guilty though, your bail money may go toward court fees. When you make bond, it means you don’t have the money and so need the assistance of a bail bond company.
A third option is reserved for low level offenders: the signature bond. This type of unsecured bond will allow you to only sign a document indicating a set amount you need to pay if you fail to appear in court.
While bail and bond do differ, they are related in that both options allow you your temporary freedom.