When a defendant is incarcerated while awaiting trial, the judge hearing his case will often allow him to remain free before a verdict is reached. In exchange, the defendant must submit a deposit to the court, called bail. If the defendant cannot afford the deposit, he will pay a fee to a bail bond agent, who will supply a bail bond covering the full amount of the bail. In many cases, the bail agent will demand that the defendant provide some collateral, which can include a house.
When a bail bondsman puts up money for the bail, he is risking the loss of his deposit if the defendant does not reappear in court at the appointed time, thereby forfeiting his bail. For this reason, the bail bondsman will generally require that the defendant or his family put down some form of collateral that covers the size of the bail.
The collateral will not only compensate the bail bondsman in case the defendant causes the bail to be forfeited, but it also gives the defendant an incentive to meet the conditions of the bail. If the collateral is a family home, the bail bondsman may assume that the family will assist in making sure that the defendant does cause the bail to be forfeited.
According to the law office of H. Michael Steinberg, in lieu of providing a house deed to a bail bondsman as collateral, some courts will accept a "property bond" to pay for the bail itself. In this case, the defendant allows the court to take out of a lien on the house in an amount equivalent to the bail. If he causes the bond to be forfeited, the court will seize the house.
According to the Just Cause Law Collective, some bondsmen will only accept liens on houses or land as collateral. Those putting up a house as collateral should be aware that, according to most bail bond contrasts, if a defendant places the bail money in danger of being forfeited, such as by skipping town, the collateral can be seized. This means that a family's home can be repossessed and its occupants evicted.
Another way that you could pay for a bail bond with a house would be to take out a mortgage on the home. Some mortgages, called cash-advance mortgages, provide the borrower with a large sum of cash up front. Alternatively, depending on the home's equity, you could borrow against the value of the home. However, potential lenders may be unwilling to lend to a household whose breadwinner is currently incarcerated, as it may prohibit the borrower from successfully paying back the loan.