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Getting arrested for a criminal offense is one of the most harrowing experiences one could possibly go through. That is why the court gives ample time for legal preparation by allowing the defendant to file for bail. If you are not familiar with the bail bonds terminology, applying for bail may not be a simple process. To help you get acquainted with several terms and concepts related to bail bonds, we have created this guide.

What Are Bail Bonds?

For the defendant, a bail bond is a written promise signed by the guarantor and the accused. In this case, the guarantor is the bail bond agent. Assuring the court that the defendant will attend the trial as scheduled is the main purpose of signing this document.  If the defendant has complied fully with all of the requirement, the bail bond company will pay the bail amount upon signing the agreement.

Bail bond companies generally require collateral. Personal properties, an outstanding credit rating, securities, or other sources may serve as collateral. At least ten percent of the total bond amount is typically charged by bail bond companies.


  • Bail – The term bail refers to the money you pay to a bail agent or to the court, though many people today use bail bonds and bail interchangeably.
  • Bail Condition – To ensure the defendant will appear during the trial, the court sets out specific conditions. Unless there are other factors that must be taken into account, most of the time, the court only requires the defendant to comply with these conditions.
  • Bond – Stipulating the amount of bail that a defendant must pay to the bail bond agent and the specific dates of the court hearing, a bond functions as a contract. If you cannot afford the bail amount, defendants can sign this contract with a bail bondsman. The court can also receive direct payment in cash from the defendant.
  • Collateral Collateral is property or goods that is used as security against a bond or loan. If the conditions are not satisfactorily met by the defendant, a collateral item is automatically forfeited. Electronic gadgets, houses, boats, jewelry, and cars are often used as collateral.
  • Defendant – The person accused of a crime is known as the defendant.
  • Forfeiture – For the trial, the defendant is clearly required by the court to attend. The bond company will be notified by the court if this requirement is not met. The court will set another date in some instances. The whole bail amount will not be returned if the defendant fails to appear again. To keep track of the defendant’s whereabouts, a fugitive recovery agent may be hired by the bail bond company sometimes.
  • Indemnitor – If the accused fails to do his part, in order to make sure someone will be held responsible, a defendant must find a co-signor for the bail bond. The co-signor, or indemnitor, will pay the entire bail amount to the bail bondsman or the court and be held accountable for all the legal expenses incurred during the trial.