A Bail Bond Glossary: Terms Explained

Being arrested or finding out that it’s happened to a loved one can be tremendously stressful, but it’s all the more complicated because there are so many official terms used by the court during legal proceedings. This glossary aims to help you understand the main terms used by the bail bond industry.

Bail Bond Company

A bail bond company uses its financial resources to pay for bail to release a defendant from custody. For this service, they charge a premium, payable by the defendant or a nominated indemnitor. The bail is subject to forfeiture if the defendant does not meet the conditions set by the court.

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Premium Payments

This is the amount paid to the bail bond company for posting bail on behalf of the defendant. Most states have fixed this at 10%, so for example a$2,500 premium is paid on a bail set at $25,000. This premium is generally paid by cash, cheque or credit card. Be sure that you’re paying this to a reputable company as there have been instances of scams.

The premium is subject to forfeiture if the conditions of the bond are not met.

Bond Indemnitor

This is the guarantor for the bond. Also known as a co-signer, these people are often family or friends of the defendant and are responsible for the defendant’s adherence to the conditions of the contract. They often put up collateral in the form of a personal possession, including equity in a property, vehicles, jewellery and technological equipment, which is then subject to forfeiture if any of the conditions are not met.

If you are considering being an indemnitor for someone, you need to evaluate the likelihood of the defendant meeting the conditions of bail, and whether or not you can afford to forfeit the item being used as collateral.

Bail Agreement

This is the name for the contract in place between the indemnitor and the bail agent.

Withdrawal of Bail

A bail bond is offered with a certain set of conditions, the primary one being that the defendant must reappear in court. If the bail bond agent discovers information that indicates that the defendant is no longer a good risk – for example, if it comes to light that the defendant has made plans to flee – then the agent can withdraw the bond, and the defendant is re-apprehended and returned to custody.

Skipping Bail

If a defendant leaves the jurisdiction in order to avoid reappearing in front of the court, this is termed skipping bail. Generally in this case a bench warrant is issued for the defendant’s re-arrest, and the bail is forfeited – paid for by the bail agent. The bail agent will then turn to the defendant and the indemnitor for repayment, sometimes requiring the sale of the collateral.

Removing Bond Liabilities

Once all conditions of the bond have been satisfied, including attendance at court proceedings, the bond is considered ‘discharged’ or ‘exonerated’. The collateral is returned to the indemnitor unless the premium has not yet been paid.

Kate Lee is a freelance writer and works with several bail bonds Sylmar companies. She regularly contributes articles about the legal process.

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