Bond Legal Definition

The bond legal definition is, by law, a written agreement in which someone receives the bond (monetary payment) and promises to engage in a specific act, i.e., performing under a contract or appearing in court. A failure to perform results in the party’s forfeiture of the money previously given, or a requirement of the party to pay a sum of money to cover the failure to act.

In simple terms, a bond is an incentive to do something. Generally, a surety is involved in the bond process; this person is responsible for the consequences of the obligated person’s actions.

Bail Bond

A bail bond is a written agreement signed by a defendant in a legal suit whereby the defendant (or surety) pays a fixed fee if he or she fails to appear in court for a criminal proceeding. For example, let’s assume that someone is arrested and charged for a crime. Instead of sitting in jail and waiting for his trial, the surety or defendant himself pays the bail bond in order tobe released from jail.

Essentially, it’s an “out of jail” scenario in which the defendant makes bond and can continue living at home until he is called into court for the official criminal proceeding. Depending on the type of crime committed, the judge may not allow the defendant to post bond or might alternatively provide an incredibly high bail bond amount, making it almost impossible for the defendant to post bail.

Since a lot of defendants cannot afford bail, they will seek the help of a bail agent who will charge a 10 or 20 percent fee to help the defendant post bond. However, the defendant must pay the additional percentage up front and give the bail agent items for collateral, i.e., jewelry, car, etc. Thereafter, the bail agent will be liable to the court for the full amount of the bail if the defendant fails to show up in court at the scheduled time and date of his hearing.

Generally, the bail agent will look at the defendant’s history to determine whether or not they should assist the defendant in posting bail. Such history includes how long the defendant has lived in the community, prior criminal record, and overall reputation in the community.

Liability Under a Bail Bond

Liability under the bail bond will end in any one of the following circumstances:

  1. The defendant is called into court and shows up on the date/time when called into court.
  2. If the bond terms become impossible to execute, i.e., death of the defendant or his arrest or imprisonment for an unrelated offense.

Keep in mind that if the defendant fails to show up in court, a warrant will be issued for his arrest. Immediately thereafter, the bond amount will be forfeited to the court. The bail agent will receive a bill for the remaining amount due; more importantly, the bail agent actually has the authority to find the defendant, arrest him, and bring him to the nearest police station.

While bail bond agents are common in a lot of states, several states make it illegal to post bail for profit; such states include Kentucky, Illinois, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Oregon. Therefore, such bail bond agencies cannot operate out of these states. This also makes it much more difficult for defendants arrested in these states to post bail.

Other Types of Bonds

There are several other types of bonds, including the treasury, serial, revenue, municipal, junk, income, flower, discount, bid, and debenture bonds, among several others. Two common bonds include the following:

  1. Appeal bond
  2. Appearance bond

An appeal bond is given by someone appealing a lawsuit who promises that he can afford the costs of the appeal. An appearance bond is given by a defendant in a criminal proceeding to guarantee that the defendant will appear in court when called in; while this is similar to a bail bond, it’s different in that the defendant might not ordinarily be put in jail for the legal issues at hand. For example, generally a defendant in a criminal proceeding will give a bail bond, and those defendants in civil actions will give an appearance bond.

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