Unsecured bondsUnder the right circumstances, you could be released:
- “On your own recognizance” (an “OR” bond); or
- On a bond with a face amount but requiring no cash deposit and no collateral except for your own signature. If you fail to appear or otherwise violate your bail conditions, you are liable to the court for the amount of the bond.
Cash bondsIn appropriate circumstances, you could be released under a cash bond. With a cash bond, the court requires the deposit of cash as collateral to secure your release. The court will announce whether the bail is “straight” (requiring deposit of the whole amount) or whether a deposit of some percentage (typically ten percent) will suffice. Even on a ten percent bond, if you fail to appear, you are liable for the full amount of the bond. If ultimately you are convicted and your sentence includes a fine or restitution, and if the cash posted was your own money rather than a third party’s, the court may order that the cash bond be applied to the fine or restitution.
Surety bondsIn some circumstances, you might be released under a surety bond. With a surety bond, the court demands that a third-party sign the bond as surety and perhaps post collateral to secure your release. The suretor may be a friend or relative, or it may be a bonding company. For more on bail bond agencies, read Bail essentials.
Real property bondsA common form of collateral is real estate, which might be either your home or the home of a friend or relative. Real estate is an attractive form of collateral for several reasons:
- It permits you and your family to reserve your cash to pay living expenses and legal costs.
- You (or your suretor) will not lose the interest that could have been earned on cash and you will not expend the interest that would be charged if you use your house to obtain a mortgage or home equity loan to fund the bail.
- Posting a home strengthens your criminal defense attorney’s argument for your release, because if you fail to appear, you will lose your home (or a friend or relative will lose their home). Often, the willingness of friends and family to post property will persuade the court that you do not pose a danger to the community and you are not a flight risk. The friend or relative thereby demonstrates great confidence in your reliability, and your criminal defense attorney can argue that you thus have a strong incentive to appear.