Bail Bond Refunds: When Will You Get Your Money Back?

You have a question about bail bond refunds: you’re wondering when and how you get your bail money back. That depends on what type of bail you paid, and whether the defendant makes all required court appearances.

If you paid the court: you probably paid “cash bail” for the full amount of the bail.

The good news is that although you had to pay the full amount of the bail you will get likely get all your bail money back if the accused has made all the required court appearances. The bond will be discharged:

when the defendant is found “not guilty”; or
when sentencing is decided if the defendant pleads or is found guilty. Note however that courts in some states may keep some of the bail amount in the case of a conviction to cover court costs, fees, penalties, etc.
You won’t get your money back if the accused fails to show up in court. In that case the judge may order the bond forfeited and issue a bench warrant for the defendant’s arrest. You also won’t get your money back if the defendant gets arrested again while out on bail. So do your best make sure your loved one stays out of trouble and gets to court on time.

If you paid a bail bondsman: you probably paid 8-12% of the total amount of bail that was set by the court. This money is non-refundable, so don’t expect to get it back.

The good news here is that you didn’t have to come up with the full amount of bail set by the court. The downside is that the 8-12% you paid to the bail bond company is non-refundable. This money is known as the “premium” – and you won’t get it back, even if the defendant is found not guilty. Charging the premium is how bail bondsmen make their money.

Note that when you sign a contract with a bail bond company, you become the “indemnitor” which means you are guaranteeing the accused will show up for all court appearances. If the accused skips bail and goes “on the run” you will be financially responsible for the full amount of the bail plus any fees and costs incurred by the bondsman to locate the accused, including bounty hunter fees.

So, carefully consider the financial consequences of posting bail if you think there is any chance the defendant will fail to appear in court.

Jesus R. Lopez

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