Home Blog Bail Bonds What is The Difference Between Bail And Bond? Post Image

July 4, 2023  |  Posted by jesse  |  Bail Bonds

After being arrested and going to jail, typically the first thing you’ll think about is how you can get out. Your options can vary depending on the nature of the charges, but you would likely have heard the terms bail and bond. Unless you’re having to choose between bail and bond yourself, you might be unaware of the differences – as they’re often mistaken for one another by those who don’t have a deeper understanding of their legal definitions. While they are both options you might consider when trying to get out of jail until your court date, you want to make sure you have a full understanding of what you’re agreeing to.

To get started, it would be helpful to break both terms down into their full meanings. What you can expect, what kind of eligibility you need to get one, and their different types. For example, bonds have cash bonds, property bonds, federal bonds, and immigration bonds. Knowing the difference can change everything, and it’s helpful to know about that whether you’re going to jail, or you know someone who is.


So first of all, what is a bond? When it comes down to it a bond is a guarantee that a defendant is giving the court that they will show up for their court appearances. As mentioned before, there are multiple types of bonds, so what’s given for the bond is dependent on the type of bond provided. Of course, the bond is returned to the defendant after attending all of the court appearances, however, there is a fee that is taken by the bondsman. This fee will typically be around 10% of the given bond and is requested before the bond is posted with the court.

What happens if you miss court?

If you miss court after posting a bond, your bond doesn’t cover you. You may find that the bondsman may have you returned to custody through a hired bounty hunter. Just because you have been allowed to go home before your court custody, does not mean you are free of obligations.

The types of bonds

If you’re going to post bond, you might be limited to a specific type of bond that you are able to. This is dependent on your charges, as well as your ability to post a certain bond. For example, if you are unable to match the cost of a cash bond – there may be another option for you. It would be a good idea to know about the different types of bonds, and what would be expected of you depending on which you wish to post.

  • Cash Bond. With a cash bond, the defendant will simply use cash to guarantee that they’re going to meet all of their court dates. The bondsman will request their fee for the bond, and you will pay the full amount as soon as it is requested.
  • Property Bond. In the event that you are not able to pay for the full amount of your cash bond, a property bond is used. Similar to a cash bond, the defendant will pay what they can for their bond, and then the property will be used as collateral for the bond. For example, your car, your house, anything that might come to the same sum as the bond.
  • Immigration Bond. Individuals who are detained but are not citizens of where they are being held may need to use a different bond. If held by immigration authorities, then an immigration bond might be what is used to leave jail until court appearances.
  • Federal Bond. As previously mentioned, the type of bond you are eligible for may depend on your charges. If you are facing charges for federal crimes, then the standard rules may not apply, and you will be looking at a federal bond instead of your standard cash or property bond.

Advantages of bonds

Of course, whether you’re going to go with bail or bond, you would notice that both are quite expensive options. Even so, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. You would have noticed that if you cannot afford your cash bond, there are other options. So even if you haven’t got the full sum of money for the requested bond, you may still be able to return home by using a property bond and using your property as collateral for the guarantee.

Disadvantages of bonds

As you have to go through a bondsman to post your bond, you will always be charged a fee that’s 10% of your total bond amount. This means that if your bond requirement is quite high, so is the fee that you’re going to have to pay – which won’t be returned to you after you have attended all of your court appearances. 

If you fail to appear in court, you might face more severe penalties when you have posted bond, as a bounty hunter could be sent to locate you and bring you into custody as a consequence. As the middleman, the bondsman is responsible for you, and so they will ensure you show up in court to the best of their abilities. 


Now that you know about bonds, it’s time to go over what bail is. Not unlike bonds, bail is the sum of money that is expected of defendants if they are going to be released from jail until their court date. Again, just like bonds, bail is the sum of money that serves as a guarantee that the defendant will show up, or else the money is forfeited. 

Unlike bonds, however, bail isn’t paid to a bondsman, who will charge you a fee – it’s typically paid by the family directly, meaning that there is no fee to go through. 

How is the bail amount decided?

Before you can post for bail, the amount needs to be decided by a judge. The amount won’t be decided until the defendant’s arraignment, and the defendant has pleaded after being read their charges. At this point, the judge may make a decision on the bail’s cost, which will be dependent on multiple different factors. 

First of all, the charges the defendant is facing will be the primary factor, secondly, the criminal history of the defendant will also play a role in the decision. Then the judge will also need to consider things like the chances of the defendant fleeing their court dates, all before coming to a final decision. As there is no upper limit to the bail price, the price can be very high depending on the case. 

From this point, the defendant will need to consider the best way to post bail. As the bail price won’t always be affordable, there is more than one way to bail from custody. 

The types of bail

From this point, the defendant will need to consider the best way to post bail. As the bail price won’t always be affordable, there is more than one way to bail from custody. Similar to bonds, what’s available to you is going to depend on what you’re being charged for.

  • Cash Bail. Just like a cash bond, except there’s no middleman. The defendant or the defendant’s family can pay the full amount for the bail directly to the court. This way there’s no fee that comes with it.
  • Personal Recognizance. Unlike cash bail, personal recognizance is used as an incentive to prevent further illegal activities. The defendant is released with the promise of attending further court appearances without the need for bail. Of course, this likely won’t be allowed if the defendant is deemed likely to avoid future court appearances or commit further misconduct.
  • Surety Bond. Just as mentioned earlier, a surety bond is what the defendant would likely have to choose if they were unable to cover the costs of bail itself. The agreement will be made with the bondsman, as well as the fee being charged, and the defendant will be able to return home until their court date.

Advantages of Bail

Bail is often the preferred way to leave custody, as it requires no middleman to handle any of the arrangements. When there’s no middleman, no fee is charged to the defendant or the family. It can work out to be cheaper and more affordable in the long run, even if the bail amount is higher than what the bond amount would be.

Bondsmen will send bounty hunters to bring you into custody when you have posted for a bond, which will not happen if you post bail yourself. Of course, you will be apprehended by the police if you miss a court date instead.

Having the freedom to go home while awaiting your trial will allow you to get on with your personal life until the actual date of your trial. It could be a while until the trial, and you would otherwise be stuck in jail until that date arrives. 

Disadvantages of bail

Bail can be expensive, and if the defendant or their family is unable to pay for it, then the defendant will be held in custody until the trial date. Fortunately, Balboa Bail Bonds offers 0% interest financing payment plans and discounts.

Which is best for you?

Deciding on the one that is right for you can be very circumstantial. There’s no best option for all individuals, and it will depend on your charges, and what the judge has decided your bail amount will be set as. In some cases, defendants won’t have a choice in which they are deciding between, as the price for bail might be completely unaffordable, in which going through a bondsman will be the only available way to leave jail until the court date.

It’s important to consider the drawbacks of posting a bond, such as paying that fee to the bondsmen – which can be an incredibly high amount if your bail amount was set to a high default.

Main takeaway

Both bail and bonds are there to help defendants get on with their personal lives while they are awaiting their court dates. Both are an option that will likely be available, depending on the nature of the charges, and can vary in cost depending on what the judge decides. The bail prices cannot be negotiated with the judge or the court due to the factors that are used to decide them – which are the nature of the charges, criminal history, and likeliness for you to attend future court dates.

While both are a means of leaving jail, they are there to serve as a guarantee that you are going to show up for your court dates, or else the money that you put forward as bail or a bond will not be returned to you.

Frequently asked questions

Will I get my bail money back?

The bail premium (fee paid to a bail bond company) is non-refundable once the bond is posted. This fee for the bail agents service is fully earned once the jail or court accepts the bond and releases the defendant.

Is a lawyer needed to post bail?

No. A lawyer is not needed to post bail or bond, however, it is recommended that you speak with a criminal defense attorney to fully understand what your rights are. Once you have explored your options and discussed your case with an attorney, you can make a much more informed decision.

What if I miss a court appearance?

First of all, if you miss a court appearance after posting bail or bond, you will be unlikely to receive the money you had originally paid after the scheduled attendance has passed. Additionally, a warrant for your arrest will be issued, or alternatively, if you have posted bond – a bounty hunter may be sent to locate you instead.