A bail bond is basically a tool that is used to enable people to leave prison while they await their trial. If someone is charged with a criminal offense, that person will have to be held in jail until a certain amount of bail is paid. However, just what is a bail bond? While most of us have heard of it, many of us don't quite understand what it is, how it is set, how it is paid for, and more.

What Is A Bail Bond And How Is It Set?

A judge will determine how much bail someone has to pay to prevent that person from fleeing and not returning to court. This is determined first of all by the extent of the crime. There are certain crimes that are particularly heinous, like sex offenses or murder, where no bail is set. This means that those charged will not be allowed to be released from jail until their trial. A second thing that judges look at, is someone's net worth. Those who have several million dollars in the bank will usually have to pay a very high amount of bail, so that they are not tempted to leave the country and forfeit the amount paid.

Once a bail bond is paid, the defendant is able to return home until the scheduled date to appear in court for the trial. In effect, the bail guarantees that these people will actually attend their trial. When they do, their bail will be returned to them, or the bail bondsman they worked with. A bail bondsman will usually charge a fee of around 10% of the bail, which is how they make their money.

What Is A Bail Bond And What Types Exist?

There are different types of bail bonds. Here, someone has to pay for the full bail in cash up front to allow the defendant to be released from jail. This is usually done by asking friends or family members to visit a bail bondsman, unless the defendant has enough money in the bank for pay for it. Once the bail has been posted, which is known as 'making bail', the defendant will be released.

Next, there is the surety bail bond. Here, a bondsman will ask for an upfront premium against the bond. This is a percentage of the total bond itself and must be paid before bail is posted. Surety bail bonds are exclusively offered by bail bondsmen.

Then, there are property bail bonds. In this case, the defendant or his or her family will put up a piece of collateral, usually a vehicle or a home, against the bond. If the defendant does not attend court afterwards, the property can be seized and sold.

Someone who makes bail but later doesn't attend court is known as 'skipping bail'. This is a criminal offense, which means it will be added to the list of charges. Furthermore, if bail was posted through a bondsman, the bondsman will put out a bounty on that person. Reminiscent of the old Wild West, this does mean that professional investigators will try to find the fugitives and return them to the bondsman and to court.