How Bail Bonds Work – A Step-By-Step Guide

Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced bail bond agent, this guide can help you understand how bail bonds work. It’ll give you the information you need to provide the best services possible and keep your clients returning for more.

Bail is a cash payment that a person arrested for a criminal offense gives to the court to get released before a trial. It’s designed to ensure the defendant shows up for their court date and complies with the judge’s conditions.

The Bail Bond Process

Once a defendant has been arrested and has a court date, they must go before the judge to determine the amount of bail that must be set. A person may be remanded in custody if bail is denied until the case goes to trial.

Most people cannot afford the full bail amount, so they seek a written agreement with a bail bondsman. Bail bond agents usually charge a percentage of the bond, typically 10 percent.

After this amount is paid, the bondsman will post a bond for the defendant, guaranteeing that they will appear in court when required. If a defendant skips bail, they lose their bond and must pay the entire amount.

This is why providing the bondsman with as much information about your case as possible is important. This will make it easier for them to track down the defendant should they skip bail.


Bail bond agents offer bail bonds to help people who cannot afford to pay the full amount of their loved one’s bail. They offer collateral, which is something of value that the indemnitor (the person who has taken out the bail bond) agrees to sign over in exchange for the agent’s guarantee that their loved one will show up in court if they get arrested again.

Collateral can be in cash, property, jewelry, or a combination of these. The value of the collateral should be sufficient to cover the total amount of the bond, as well as any additional costs the bondsman may incur in securing it.

Real estate is the most common type of collateral used for bail bonds. This is because it typically has a high value and can serve as a surety that the defendant will appear in court when scheduled to go on trial.


To cover their costs, bail bond companies must charge a fee. This is usually 10% of the total bonding amount. This fee is regulated by the state and cannot be negotiated.

This fee helps them cover the risk of the defendant missing a court date and will never be returned to you. It’s similar to interest on a loan that you pay upfront.

The fees you pay for bail bonds can hurt your credit score, so make sure you only use them when necessary and pay them as required.

Bail agents can request cash collateral or other guarantees to secure the bail bond. This can include property such as jewelry the bondsman can repossess if the defendant fails to attend court.

Payment Options

Bail amounts the court assigns can be hefty, so only some have the cash to pay for it. To help, bail bond companies offer some payment options.

Typically, the most efficient and convenient option is using a credit card to make payments. You can also pay by check, cashier’s, or money order.

A unique payment method is using a real estate lien. This type of collateral is designed to protect the indemnitor if the defendant does not appear for a hearing.

Ask a bondsman about their offerings to learn more about this payment method. Some will be willing to work with you and your budget on an individualized payment plan. They may even give you a free consultation to determine what is best for you and your loved ones. It is always best to ensure you understand all the ins and outs of a particular payment scheme before signing any contracts.