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   First/Last Word On Bonds

When someone is charged with a new criminal offense, as opposed to a violation of probation or an ICE hold, a judge will typically set a bond.  The posting of the bond allows the person charged with a criminal offense to exit the jail and wait at home during the pendency of the case.  Because of the large number of individuals who choose not to address their addictions or desire for fast money or other dysfunctions in their relationships, it takes time for the person arrested on new criminal charges to have his/her case heard by a jury.  Bond allows the person able to make bond to continue with his/her life, work or family commitments while the case gets ready for jury trial.  IF it were possible to have a person arrested on a new criminal offense tried by a jury three days after arrest, there would be no need for bond hearings and posting bonds.

 Although the concepts of bonds and bail are used interchangeably, they are different things.  A bond is a contract.  It is a promise to do or not do something.  When an accused signs a bond before leaving the jail, he/she is typically posting something of value (i.e. property, cash), as a promise that he/she will return to court as directed AND will abide by the conditions of bond, which may include no alcohol, stay-away from a particular person, etc.  IF the person fails to appear in court as directed, the bond can be forfeited.  Conversely, bail represents a number.  It is the amount on the bond that a person must post in order to get out of jail during the pendency of the case.  There are many people in jail with bail.  They have a number which will allow them to get out of jail, but they are unable to post the property or cash or get a bondsman to assist them.     


This brings us to the four most common types of bond.  The easiest bond to make is a signature bond.  The amount of the bail is irrelevant, because the accused need only to put his signature on the bond paperwork and he/she can walk out of jail.  Typically a signature bond also known as (aka) an OR bond (own recognizance bond) aka ROR bond (release on own recognizance bond) is reserved for less serious criminal offenses, where the accused has never been arrested before.  Some examples would include reckless conduct, misdemeanor possession of marijuana, misdemeanor shoplifting, etc.  Maybe the most difficult bond to make is a cash only bond, where the courts require the accused to post the entire amount of the bail in cash.  Typically a cash bond is granted where the judge has some concern about the person appearing in court, because of weak ties to the community where the accused was arrested, or there may be an immigration issue, or the charge involves a distribution about of drugs.  The good thing about a cash bond is when the case ends, the bondsperson that posts the cash (typically family) will get all of their money back, which is very different from working with a bondsman, where none of the money is returned.   

The third type of bond is a property bond, where the accused must post real property – i.e. real estate.  Interestingly, different jurisdictions have different requirements with property bonds.  Typically, in order to post a property bond, the property must be within the state.  It does not need to be within the county, but it needs to be within the state.  In order to post a property bond, the equity in the property must be more than the bail.  What is equity?  Equity in real estate is the difference between the value of the property and the mortgages remaining on the property.  In order words, IF the property was sold and all debt associated with the property (e.g. first and second mortgages) were paid off, the remaining money on the table would represent equity.  Some jurisdictions have a one for one requirement, while others have a three for one requirement, which means in some jurisdictions if the bail on a property bond is $ 30,000, you only need to have $ 30,000 in equity in the property, while in others you need to have $ 90,000 (i.e. three for one) in equity in the property.  IF you have property that can be tied up on a property bond for about one year, property bonds are ideal, because when the case is resolved the total cost to get the person out of jail and on bond during the pendency of the trial maybe less than fifty dollars.      

The fourth type of bond is a surety bond, where a third party bondsman posts bail with an understanding that the person bonded out will pay a fee to the bondsman, which usually represents anything from twelve percent (12%) to twenty percent (20%) of the total bail set by the court.  The bondsman’s fee depends on the type of criminal offense, the accused’s criminal history and the accused’s primary residence.  This is probably the most common type of bond, because most people accused of a criminal offense do not have $ 10,000 in cash or equity in property.  However, when an accused is bonded out by a bondsman, the bondsman dictates where the accused may travel.  Unlike a cash bond or property bond, where the accused typically answers to no one unless and until there is a court date, with the surety bond, the bondsman can place limit on the accused, and come off the bond IF the accused does not respect the limits, or gets arrested for a new offense.  Two last thoughts on surety bonds.  First, once the bondsman post the bail for the accused, the bondsman has earned his/her fee, which means IF all of the charges are dropped 24 hours after the accused leaves the jail, the accused is not entitled to get any money back.  Second, IF the bondsman agrees to get the accused out on a payment plan, the bondsman is always expecting his money, even IF the charges are dropped before the payment plan has been completed.  

The last word on bonds and bail involves revocations.  Once bail is in place that number cannot be changed or amended or modified without notice to the accused, and a hearing, where the accused is allowed to argue that bail should remain the same.  Conversely, a bond can be forfeited without the accused being notified beforehand, as typically occurs when the accused fails to appear in court.  The failure to appear in court triggers: (1) a bench warrant, which tells authorities to pick up the accused; and (2) a revocation of the bond, which may be reset after the accused appears in court.  The best policy is to retain an experienced attorney, who can stay on top of court dates and make sure bond is not revoked. 
Lawrence Lewis is an experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer practicing as Drug Attorney, License Suspension Lawyers, Sex Offense Attorney, Traffic Citation Lawyer, Misdemeanor Offenses Attorneys, Felony Offenses Lawyer, Bond Lawyer, Armed Robber Attorney, dui lawyer, Preliminary Hearing serving Lawrenceville, Gwinnett Country, Metro Atlanta, Alpharetta, Roswell, Marietta, Buford, Fulton County, Canton, Decatur, Norcross, Woodstock, Stone Mountain, Duluth and Cumming .

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