Understanding The Difference Between Bond And Bail


When a person is arrested, they have the option to post bail or obtain a bond to secure their release from custody. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they have distinct differences that are important to understand. In this article, we will explore the differences between bond and bail and what you need to know about each.


Bail is the amount of money a defendant must pay to the court to secure their release from jail while their case is pending. The purpose of bail is to ensure the defendant appears in court for all scheduled hearings and trials. If the defendant fails to appear, the court can forfeit the bail and issue a warrant for their arrest.

Bail can be paid in cash, by check, or through a bail bond. In some cases, the court may allow the defendant to be released on their own recognizance (OR), which means they do not have to pay bail but must promise to appear in court as required.


A bond is a type of insurance policy that guarantees the defendant’s appearance in court. When a person obtains a bond, they pay a fee, typically 10% of the total bond amount, to a bail bondsman or bonding company. The bondsman or company then provides a surety bond to the court that guarantees the defendant’s appearance.

If the defendant fails to appear in court, the bondsman or company is responsible for paying the full bond amount to the court. The bondsman or company can then take steps to locate and return the defendant to custody.

Differences Between Bond and Bail

While both bond and bail are used to secure a defendant’s release from custody, there are some key differences between the two:


Bail is paid directly to the court, while a bond is paid to a bail bondsman or bonding company.


When paying bail, the defendant must pay the full amount to the court. With a bond, the defendant pays a fee, typically 10% of the total bond amount, to the bondsman or company.


If the defendant pays bail and appears in court as required, the bail amount is refunded at the conclusion of the case. With a bond, the fee paid to the bondsman or company is non-refundable.


To obtain a bond, the defendant or someone on their behalf must provide collateral, such as property or a vehicle, to secure the bond. Bail does not require collateral.


Understanding the difference between bond and bail is important if you or a loved one is facing criminal charges. Bail and bond can provide a way to secure temporary release from custody, but they come at a cost. By knowing the differences between the two, you can make an informed decision about which option is right for your situation.

Always consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney before making any decisions about bail or bond.