The Difference Between Bail and Bond

Many people think that bail and bail bonds are the same thing and they use the two terms interchangeably. The truth is that there’s a significant difference between the two terms. Whether you post bail or post a bail bond can play a major role in how much money you pay upfront to get out of jail and if you can get all of that money back. If you or someone you love is in jail, you need to know the difference between bail and a bond if you want to make an educated choice.

When someone is arrested, the judge will set a bail amount. This is the amount of money that needs to be paid to the court in order to secure the defendant’s release. For example, if the bail amount is $20,000, you need to pay the court the full $20,000 in order to meet your bail and be released from custody. The good news is that if you meet the terms of the bail and appear back in court for your trial and other scheduled appearances, you will receive the complete $20,000 back.


But what happens when you can’t afford to pay the full bail amount? This is where a bail bond agent comes into play. They will agree to provide the court with a “surety bond” that guarantees that you will appear in court; if you do not appear in court at the scheduled time, the bond agent has to pay the full bail amount. In exchange for posting the bail bond, the bondsman will charge a non-refundable fee that is usually around 10 percent of the total bail amount. In the case of a $20,000 bail amount, this would be $2,000.

So which choice is right for you? It will likely come down to your financial situation. If you have the means to pay bail out of your own pocket, you can gain your release without losing any money in the long run. However, if the bail amount is more than you can afford, posting a bail bond through an agent is your best bet to find your freedom and get out of jail fast.