What is a Cash Bond?

By Kent Ninomiya

  • Overview

    A cash bond is the amount of money that must be given to a court of law to secure the release of a defendant from jail while the case against the defendant is pending. Judges order cash bond as an incentive for defendants to show up for court hearings and their trial. If they fail to appear they lose the cash bond. Judges typically require higher cash bonds for more serious charges.
  • Cash Bond

    Cash bond is ordered in cases where there is a defendant who appears to be somewhat trustworthy but is charged with a serious crime. In cases where the charge is not serious, the defendant does not appear to be a danger to the community, and the defendant does not have a history of missing court dates, personal bond is offered. The defendant merely promises to show up and pays a small administrative fee. In cases where the defendant is a serious flight risk or is accused of a particularly heinous crime, judges order the prisoner held in jail without the option of bond.
  • Posting Cash Bond

    To post a cash bond, someone must present the cash bond amount at the jail or courthouse. This must be in the form of cash, money order or cashier's check. Very few courts accept personal checks, debit cards or credit cards for cash bond. Other collateral such as jewelry, stocks and real estate are also not accepted for cash bond. Once the cash bond is received, a receipt is issued and the prisoner is processed. If all the paperwork is in order the defendant is released from jail within hours. They are then required to attend all mandatory court hearings until the case is resolved.

  • Returning Cash Bond

    If the defendant in the case failed to make any required court appearances, the judge in the case can order the cash bond forfeited. This means the court takes the money and the defendant, or whomever posted the cash bond, does not get any of it back. When the trial is over, a settlement is reached, or the charges are dismissed, the judge will settle the status of the cash bond. If the defendant honored the cash bond agreement and make all required court appearances, the cash bond is return to the defendant. This happens regardless of who posted the cash bond. It is up to the defendant to return the money to the rightful owner.
  • Deductions from Cash Bond

    Sometimes courts deduct money from cash bonds before returning them. If the defendant is delinquent on child support, that money is often withheld from the cash bond refund. Some counties also deduct court fees, unpaid fines and taxes. This is an important consideration for people who post cash bond for someone else to get them out of jail. The courts do not care that the money does not belong to the defendant. It is possible to post cash bond for someone else and get nothing back.
  • Surety Bonds

    Many courts allow defendants to post surety bonds in place of cash bonds. Surety bonds are posted by a bail bondsperson. The defendant or someone else pays a fee to the bail bondsperson to post the cash bond for them. This fee is usually 10 percent of the cash bond amount and is not returned. They work well for people who do not have the money to post a cash bond. Surety bonds can not be used to pay court fees, unpaid fines, taxes or delinquent child support. Some defendants who know they owe this money attempt to avoid paying it by using surety bonds instead of cash bonds.
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