Bail Bonds 101: Vocab Terms
When people call our office, we try to use the simplest of terms to explain to defendants, and their respective family, what is happening. Still, the courts often time use legal jargon that can be jarring to people without a degree in law. Here are some of the most popular Bail Bond terms to help you and your loved ones navigate the experience.
Bail Conditions: To start, not all cases have conditions. Secondly, some cases have the option of a lower bail amount if you adhere to the conditions. For example, you could pay $50,000 to be released on a charge without conditions, or pay $5,000, but adhere to the conditions set forth by the court. Conditions range in severity based on the charge and defendant history, and are determined by a Judge (or other court administration). Occasionally, these conditions are tied to a reoccurring financial commitment, such as an alcohol monitor, and can quickly add up in cost. Further more, they often require weekly appointments with the conditional release officer. If these conditions are too much or are interfering with your lifestyle, we can help you post bond. Lastly, you are able to post a bond to get off of conditions, even after you initially posted the smaller bail amount.
Bond Indemnitor/Co-signer: This individual guarantees to the court, and to the bondsman, that the defendant will strictly adhere to the guidelines of his or her release. Cosigners can be anyone who knows the defendant, from family to friends, and who meet the criteria set forth by the bonding company. While some companies require perfect credit and full-time employment, Goldberg Bail Bonds looks at the individual as a whole. We try to asses qualifications on a case-by—case basis. Essentially, Goldberg wants to know that if the defendant fails to meet the criteria agreed upon at the time of release, that the cosigner is able and willing to follow through with their contractual obligation to cover the cost of the forfeiture over time.
Bounty Hunter: Individuals who seize and return fugitives for a monetary reward. The goal is to locate, arrest, and return the defendant who has missed court. A Bounty Hunter may also be referred to as: a bail enforcement agent, fugitive recovery agent, skip tracer, and bail fugitive investigator.
Cash Bond: A cash amount is ordered to be paid, either by the defendant or another individual, to cover the entire amount of the bail bond. The cash is held by the court for the duration of the case, and is returned to the defendant (who is not always the actual payer) once the case has successfully concluded. If a defendant misses court, the cash amount is forfeited. Bail bonds cannot be posted in-lieu of cash, or for the cash amount. For example, if your bail is $15,000, but you have a cash bail option of $1,500, Goldberg Bail Bonds cannot help you in posting the $1,500 amount.
Collateral: This is a cash amount or equity in real estate to secure the bail bond. The bonding company holds the agreeable amount until the defendant’s case been successfully concluded. Collateral specifically guarantees the bondsman a certain amount of funding to put towards the forfeiture, apprehension, and court fees associated with a client missing court, and/or skipping bail.
Conditional Release: Similar to being released on one’s Own Recognizance, a defendant is released from jail on a promise that he or she will appear for all of their court appearances without the need for a bond of any kind. However, there are additional stipulations on a conditional release that are not necessarily present when ROR-ed. For example, if a defendant has a drug charge, an example of conditions might be: to obtain a chemical dependency evaluation, weekly urine analysis for substances of any kind, and/or weekly conferences with a conditional release officer. Sometimes, being on conditions can be more costly than posting the bail alternative. Both the conditions and the bail alternative are set by a judge, or other court administration.
Discharged Bond: When a defendant has been sentenced, or the case is dismissed, the cosigner and the bonding company are no longer liable for the bail amount.
Federal Bond: Most defendants are charged in a crime by the state. However, more severe charges, or charges that span multiple states, are subject to the U.S. District Court, and are considered federal. This means that the bail amounts are determined by a federal judge, and do not adhere to state statutes or schedules for individual crimes. The normal premium charged typically increases, or requires collateral. For specifics, please call Goldberg and we can walk you through your options.
Forfeiture/Skipping Bail: Both terms refer to a defendant who will not be making their court appearances. Skipping Bail more specifically refers to when a defendant flees the state in order to avoid their charges or case. A Forfeiture is a broader term that refers to a defendant who missed court in any capacity when they have been released on a bail. When either of these occur, a bench warrant is issued by the court. The best thing to do in the event that you have missed court accidentally, and your bond has been forfeited, is to call Goldberg so we can work with you, and the court, to get the original bond reinstated.
Immigration Bond: This type of federal bond is used for detainees held by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). These bonds work similar to others, as the bondsman guarantee’s the defendant’s appearance at all court appearances.
Own Recognizance: A defendant is released from jail on a promise that he or she will appear for all of their court appearances without the need for bail. You may also hear the term “ROR,” meaning Released on Own Recognizance. Eligibility is determined by the charging prosecutor, a judge, or other court administration staff, not by a bondsman.
Premium Payment: The bail bond premium is the cost to post a bail bond. In Minnesota, the standard rate is about 10% of the total bail amount. This means if the bail is set at $12,000, the average premium amount due is a non-refundable $1,200 for the service rendered; getting the defendant out of custody. The premium for the bond can be paid by cash, check, or credit card to the bondsman.
Surety Bond: In the legal world, a surety bond and a bail bond are the same thing. A surety bond is essential a contract between four parties: the defendant, the cosigner, the bail bond company, and the court. This type of bond is used to secure the release of a defendant for the duration of the trial, assuming no additional violations occur on the case. The defendant, cosigner, or third-party will pay a premium in exchange for the bail bond company guaranteeing the defendant’s appearance to all future court dates. In the event of a forfeiture, the bonding company will pay the forfeiture, and turns to the defendant and cosigner for reimbursement.
Signature Bond: An alternative to traditional cash or surety bonds (bail bonds), and is similar to being released on one’s own recognizance. What this means to the defendant and his or her loved one’s is that the defendant signs paperwork directly with the court guaranteeing a financial penalty should the defendant not appear in court.
Transfer Bond: If you are arrested in a different state than the one you live, or have a loved one who was arrested away from their home-state, Goldberg Bail Bonds can work with you to post that bond. This works by coordinating with our national affiliates to reach an agreement that benefits the client in need. However, not all states use bail bonds, so Goldberg is limited in utility to the local laws where the defendant was arrested.
If you have any additional questions, comments, concerns, or suggestions, please feel free to call us so we can keep serving you to the best of our ability.