The terms “bail” and “bond” are often used interchangeably in the criminal justice system. However, they have distinct meanings and can result in different outcomes for defendants. One key difference is that bond is typically set higher than bail. Today we’ll explore why the bond is often higher than bail and what it means for defendants and their families.
What is the difference between bail and bond?
Bail refers to the amount of money a defendant must pay to be released from jail while awaiting trial. The purpose of bail is to ensure that the defendant will return to court for their scheduled hearing. A judge usually sets bail at the defendant’s initial court appearance, known as an arraignment.
On the other hand, bond refers to paying a bail bond company to secure a defendant’s release from jail. Instead of paying the full bail set by the court, the defendant or their loved ones can pay a non-refundable fee to a bail bond company, which acts as a surety and guarantees the defendant’s appearance in court.
Why is bond higher than bail?
The main reason a bond is often higher than bail is that it includes the fee charged by the bail bond company. This fee is typically 10% of the total bail amount but can vary depending on the company and the defendant’s circumstances. For example, a defendant with a long criminal history or a high flight risk may be charged a higher bond fee.
Another reason bond is higher than bail is that the bail bond company takes on a significant risk by acting as a surety for the defendant. If the defendant fails to appear in court, the bail bond company will be responsible for paying the full bail amount to the court. Therefore, the bond fee is a way for the bail bond company to recoup some potential losses they may incur.
What does this mean for defendants and their families?
For defendants and their loved ones, the higher cost of bonds can be a significant financial burden. In addition to the bond fee, they may also be required to provide collateral to the bail bond company, such as property or valuables. This can make it difficult for low-income defendants or those without assets to secure their release from jail.
Furthermore, defendants who are unable to pay the bond fee or provide collateral may be left with no choice but to remain in jail until their trial. This can have serious consequences, including loss of employment, difficulties in maintaining relationships, and even deterioration of their mental and physical health.
However, bond alternatives include release on own recognizance (ROR) or supervised release. Release on own recognizance allows defendants to be released without paying bail but under the agreement that they will appear in court when required. Supervised release is another option, in which defendants are released with certain conditions like regular check-ins and monitoring of their movement and may be required to wear an electronic ankle monitor.
In conclusion, the higher cost of the bond can be a significant obstacle for defendants and their families. The criminal justice system needs to consider alternative methods of release that are more accessible to low-income defendants and those without assets. By understanding why the bond is often higher than bail, we can work towards creating a more fair and equitable system for all.