Bail Basics

Shortly after an arrest, the individual will appear before a Franklins ID-10020673judge. The prosecutor will detail for the court, the charges against the individual. At that hearing, the Judge decides many things, one of which is bail. What exactly is “bail”?

Bail is something pledged or given to ensure the person charged will appear at the scheduled hearings. In Ohio, bond is set in one of two ways: predetermined based upon the charges or by the Judge. If bond is predetermined, it can be posted anytime the person is in jail. If set by the Judge, the person is held for “arraignment”, usually within 48 hours when the terms of the bond are announced. Where to post (pay) the bond varies depending upon the specific court, county and location.

Types of Bonds

There are many different types of bond, but only a small handful are used regularly.

Recognizance Bond – Also called a “recog bond” requires only the person’s signature.

Appearance Bond – with this, the defendant is only required to give 10% of the bond value to the court prior to release. For example,  if bond is set at $5000,  $500 is needed. Upon appearing in court at the appointed time, some percentage (usually 90%) will be returned. However, if the person fails to appear, the full amount of the bond ($4500 in this example) is due immediately. Failure to appear in court will result in a warrant for the defendant’s arrest.

Cash Bond – Similar to an Appearance Bond but the entire amount is posted. Generally if the person appears as scheduled the entire amount is returned. Again, failure to appear will result in an arrest warrant.

Surety Bond – with this type, the amount due the court is pledged by a third party with the resources and reputation to guarantee the full amount, should the defendant not appear. Typically, this is an insurance company.  Representing these companies are bondsmen. These are not “agents of the court”, nor are they employed by the courts. These are individual businessmen who make their living brokering services between surety insurance companies and the defendant.

Bondsmen charge a fee for their service,  usually 10% of the bond amount. This money is their fee and does not get returned when the defendant appears in court.  For example, if the Judge sets bail at $100,000,  the bondsmen is paid $10,000 for his services.  In exchange, the company he represents agrees to pay the court the full $100,000 if the defendant does not appear. Failure to appear in court will result in an arrest warrant being issued, but the bonding company won’t wait for, and does not need a warrant to go after the defendant. Once a defendant “jumps bond”, the law affords bondsmen broad privileges and rights to apprehend the defendant.

Note: Judges often set bond as “cash or surety” thus giving the defendant the option.

Other Fees – there are usually other fees associated with posting bond, but they are small (under $100 total) compared to the bond itself. Some fees are State legislated while other fees vary with the location.

To Post Bail or Not Post Bail –  The big family question!

Deciding to post bail is often difficult for the family decision and the key word here is “family”.   Let’s face it. In most criminal cases bail is a sizable chuck of money and using that money for bail, while getting your loved one out temporarily, may cause additional hardships for everyone.   The article below may offer some guidance in when to post bond.  Again, posting bond is a family decision because it often has family consequences.

Image courtesy of Boaz Yiftach /

Updated: September 5, 2014 — 5:00 pm