Common terms you may see when using a bail bondsman

Unless you have been through the process before, it would make complete sense that most would not know common law and bail bond terms. But given how quickly everything happens when someone gets arrested, it could be helpful to know the basics. Here are some of the most helpful terms to know and understand.

Bail Bond

When a judge set bond, what they are doing is offering a cost in exchange for the defendant to be released while awaiting trial. There are several types of bail bonds but the most common tend to be cash and surety bonds.

Indemnitor

An indemnitor is essentially another word for a co-signer. This is a person (usually a very close friend, significant other or family member) who is willing to sign a contract with the defendant promising that they will show up to court. If for any reason the defendant does not show and makes no effort to reschedule, the indemnitor may be on the hook for the entire bond cost that has been forfeited. For this reason, anyone who becomes an indemnitor must have full and complete trust in the person they are helping to bail out.

Surety

A bail bond is a type of bond that is accessed by working with a bail bonds agency. This type of bond only required about 10-15% of the actual bond cost down while the rest is covered by the agency. In exchange for this, the agency considers the cost down a service cost which makes it not refundable.

Forfeiture

When a bond is in forfeiture, it means that the defendant has failed to return to court which has resulted in the bond cost being forfeited. Typically the bond cost, is refunded (either to defendant directly if paid with a cash bond or to the bail bondsman when dealing with a surety bond) but this cost will be forfeited to the courts which mean that either the defendant will lose out on getting this money back and will likely deal with a bench warrant for their arrest or they will have to pay back the bail bond agency in addition to dealing with the bench warrant and potentially further charges.

Cash Bonds

Cash bonds are the most traditional and direct type of bond. This is a bond where you pay the full cost of the set bond amount directly to the courts without any type of middle man and in turn you will only need to report to the pre-trial officer. Since the entire cost is being held by the courts, this money should be returned directly to the defendant at the end of the case.

Defendant

A defendant is a word used for the person who has been arrested and is officially charged with a crime. They are referred to as defendants because in court their position will be to defend their actions against the charges in order to show their innocence.

While this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to legal terms, this should be a good basis for knowing and understanding the main concepts when working with the courts or a bail bondsman if needed.