When a person is arrested on suspicion of committing a crime, he is taken into custody and booked into jail until he posts a bond that will temporarily release him from custody. The judge who issues the arrest warrant sets the bond amount and it depends upon the seriousness of the crime.
A bail bond, in theory, ensures that the person charged with a crime will appear in court to prevent himself, his family or the bail bondsman from losing the money paid to the court to affect his release. After the defendant appears for all his court dates and his case is settled, the money will be returned to the person who paid the bond.
A bail bond is payable in cash by the person arrested if he has access to the money or he may hire a bail bondsman for a percentage of the bond amount. If a bail bondsman posts the bail, the defendant or his family must first come up with the fee charged by the bondsman before he posts the bail. The fee is usually 10-percent of the bond but it may be slightly higher or lower, depending upon the risk factor and the amount of the bond.
The bond money remains with the court until the defendant attends all his court dates or the case settles out of court. In any case, the person putting up the bond will only receive the money back when the case is over and the defendant is sentenced or acquitted.
A co-signer, who is liable for the money should the defendant not show up in court, is often a requirement before the bail bondsman will post bond. This protects the bondsman in case the defendant flees the state or the country. The bondsman may file a lien against the property of a co-signer if the defendant does not appear in court and the co-signer refuses to pay the bondsman back for the money he paid the court.
Many people think the money paid to a bondsman is refundable upon completion of the court case. Unfortunately, this is not true. The bondsman will keep the 10-percent as his fee for the risk he took when posting the bond for the defendant. If the court sets bond at $10,000 and the bail bondsman charged $1,000 to post the bond, that amount is not refundable.