How Bonds Work in Criminal Cases


Bonds are payments that people make to courts so that they can be temporarily released from jail while they are awaiting a trial on criminal charges. Bonds can be cash bonds, which means that the defendant pays the entire amount of the bond set by the judge in cash. More commonly, bonds are surety bonds, which means that a person other than the defendant accepts responsibility for ensuring that the defendant returns to court dates as scheduled, such as a bail bond agency.

The purpose of a bond is to make sure that defendants show up in court to answer the criminal charges of which they are accused. The amount of the bond differs substantially based on the severity of the criminal offense and the criminal history of the defendant. Furthermore, in setting bail amounts, the court must take into account the ability of the defendant to pay the bond, the future safety of the defendant, and the community if he or she is released on bond and whether the bond is high enough that defendant will comply with it. Judges may not, however, use an extremely high bond amount as a form of punishment for defendants who have not been convicted of a crime. 

How Bonds Work in Criminal Cases

If the defendant later fails to appear in court as scheduled for his or her criminal case, then the court will order the bond forfeited. In the case of a surety bond, bail bond agents are responsible for payment of the bond, which gives them a huge motivation to ensure that the defendant appears in court as ordered.

Once the criminal case is over, the court will refund any cash bond posted by the defendant that is left over after the payment of any costs or fees. In the case of a surety bond, there is no refund to the defendant.

In recent years, fights have continued over the need to reform the state’s bail practices. Late last year, a federal judge approved a massive settlement in a lawsuit about bail reform. Incarcerated defendants with misdemeanor charges filed the lawsuit against Harris County for keeping them in jail when they could not afford to pay their bail. The settlement largely eliminates the use of cash bail for low-level criminal offenses.

At Peek Law Group, we care about helping you through your criminal proceedings. We will focus our efforts on advocating on your behalf and representing your interests throughout your case. Our knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers know the best strategies for defending you and working toward your desired objective. Allow us to handle your criminal case by sitting down with us today and discussing your situation.

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