info box information sign business people question mark

Quick Reference Guide
  • A Bail Bond is a type of Surety Bond.
  • A Surety Bond is an insurance policy guaranteeing one will meet all obligations.
  • The Premium is the amount paid to the Bail Bond company. This amount is set by law and all Bail Bond Companies must charge the same.
  • The premium is usually 10% of the bond for bonds above $500.00. If the bond is below 500.00, the amount is a set price.
Bail Bond Guide

The following information is provided to inform and educate about the bail bond process. This information should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. All specific legal questions should be directed to an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

Surety Bail Agent:

A person licensed with the State and appointed by an insurance company, who posts criminal bail bonds with the court. A surety bail agent performs an extraordinarily valuable public service to law enforcement and accused people alike. The posting of a surety bail bond frees up crowded jail space and permits defendants to participate more fully in their own defense. A surety bail agent, backed by the financial resources of surety insurance companies, makes possible the release of in excess of two million defendants annually, at no expense to tax payers, by providing assurances to the State that the people charged with crimes will appear as scheduled to answer charges.


A constitutional right by which the United States criminal justice system permits the release of a defendant from custody while ensuring his or her appearance at all required court proceedings.

Surety Bail Bonds:

Bonds posted by licensed surety bail agents with the court, guaranteeing a defendants appearance. According to a study by the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Statistics, surety bail consistently proved the most effective type of bail as defendants released on surety bail committed fewer crimes and appeared for their hearings more often than any other kind of release. This is because the appearance of defendants on a surety bail bond is the sole responsibility of the surety bail agent.


The amount charged by the surety bail agent to post a bail bond. The percentage is usually 10% but varies from state to state. The premium represents a fee for services rendered in securing the release of the defendant from custody and is non-refundable.


is something of value placed with the surety bail agent to ensure the defendants appearance in court. Should the defendant fail to appear when notified and cannot be apprehended and returned to the custody of the court, the collateral posted could be sold to cover the amount of the bail. The money would then be paid to the court in lieu of the defendant's appearance; however, it is worth noting that a bench warrant would remain in effect for the arrest of the defendant. An example of collateral could include a home, land, buildings, vehicles, etc.


A person who guarantees the defendant will appear for all required court appearances and provides any needed collateral for the bond.


is an order by the court declaring the bond forfeited following a defendant's failure to appear. The surety bail agent is usually given an opportunity to recover the absconded defendant. If the surety bail agent fails to do so in the required time, the court orders payment of the forfeiture, which is the full amount of the bail bond.

How the process works:

1. Payment of the premium is made.
2. Payment of expenses is made. Expenses may include court filing fees, travel expenses, etc.
3. Collateral, if needed, is provided by the Indemnitor and reviewed by the bail agent.
4. Bail application and documents are explained by the bail agent and signed by the Indemnitor and defendant.
5. Surety bond is posted with the court.

The defendant's responsibility to the bail agent:

1. Appear for all required court dates.
2. Report to the bail agent, on a weekly basis, either by phone or in person.
3. Notify the bail agent of any change of address, telephone number, or employment.
4. Compliance with all conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How long is a surety bond good for?
The bond is effective until full and final disposition of the case.

When do I get my collateral back?
Collateral is returned to the Indemnitor when the defendant's case is over and sentencing has occurred. There are rare occasions when sentencing does not conclude the bail obligation which will be explained to you by your surety bail agent.

What is a bench warrant?
A bench warrant issued by a judge or court authorizing law enforcement officials to apprehend an offender and bring that person to court.

What happens when a person fails to appear in court?
The court issues a bench warrant for the defendants arrest and the defendant is considered a fugitive. A surety bail agent has the authority to arrest and return the defendant to the required jurisdiction. A failure to appear increases an indemnitors risk of forfeiting his or her collateral.

What should I do if I missed court?
If you have missed a court appearance for any reason at all, call your bail agent immediately. In many cases the bail agent may be able to assist you in getting your court date re-scheduled or posting a new bond.

What happens after a court date is missed?
If the bail agent does not locate the defendant by the forfeiture date as set by the court, the bail agent remits the entire bond amount to the court and proceeds to liquidate Indemnitor collateral.

Payment of the forfeited bond to the court does not release the bench warrant on the defendant. The warrant remains and the defendant is a fugitive and may be arrested at any time.