What is a Cash Only Bond and Why It’s Important To Know It

Almost every person in the world should know what is a cash only bond and why it’s important. Knowing the law in general is a good idea, in this article we are going to talk about cash only bonds and why it matters.

Not every person accused of committing a crime goes to jail. Sometimes, the court can set an agreement with the criminal defendant, like paying a sum of money in order for the accused person to be free. This is often known as bail. 

The idea of paying money in order to get out of the criminal justice system sounds like a simple idea. And it sure should be. While that’s the main point behind bail, sometimes the process could be a little bit more complicated. 

Sometimes, people don’t even go through the justice system before dealing with a bail situation. They find themselves in a position where they do not know exactly what to do or how to continue the process. 

Many questions arise. For instance, if you are not able to pay the full amount designated by the judge, does that mean you have to stay in jail or under the arresting officer’s custody? Can anyone else pay? Can you hire a surety to pay for you?

Understanding how bail works always comes in handy. How is it determined, what methods of payment can be used, and what other types of bails are there? And especially, what happens next?

For example, in other cases, a court might dictate to charge the accused individual with only one type of bail: a cash-only bond. But what is a cash-only bond? Why would a court issue this type of bond over others?

Having some knowledge of how bail works and what is a cash-only bond is essential to understand part of the judicial system we live in. Let’s take a look.

What is a Cash Only Bond – What is bail? 

Bail is a set amount of money or other property that acts as insurance between the person accused (the defendant) and the court. Bail works as a deposit to guarantee the defendant returns to court as required. 

In fact, if the defendant complies with the court’s stipulations, the bail is returned at the end of the case, even if the defendant is found guilty and convicted. But, if the defendant violates the required conditions, the bail is forfeited to the court and will not be returned.   

However, it is important to note that if the accused is found not guilty, the bail will be indeed completely exonerated. Although, if the defendant is found guilty, the bail will still be returned, yet the court might keep some, but in some cases, all of the money. 

In some cases, bail can be paid in cash. However, bails are usually a high amount of money and most defendants are unable to pay it by themselves. In these situations, they turn up to a bail bond agent, also known as Bail Bondsman, with whom they will negotiate a bail bond. 

How is Bail set?

The person responsible for setting bail is the judge. In most jails, they have standard bail amounts for common crimes. This is used in order to speed up the process and facilitate people who are not willing to wait for a day, or in some cases even longer, to see a judge and have the proper bail hearing. 

This way, an arrested person often gets out of jail quickly by just paying the amount set in the bail schedule of the station house.

Setting a Bail by algorithm

Although it is not practiced by every court, many use mathematical operations to determine the bail and inform it at the pretrial release. How do they do that? They use an algorithm program to consider the defendant’s information and set an amount. 

The information usually put into this program is age and criminal history. Then, the defendant is scored according to the risk that the defendant has of committing another crime or failing to comply with the court’s conditions. The final score will determine the amount of money the defendant has to pay. 

Although it depends on each state’s procedures and jurisdictions, in some cases, if a suspect can’t afford the amount set, they can ask the judge to lower it. Sometimes the request can be accepted during a special bail hearing or when the suspect visits the court the first time, which is called the arraignment. 

Bail Hearing

Many people do not know what happens in a bail hearing. A bail hearing is the moment a judge decides whether the accused should go to jail or be freed to the community while the criminal court analyzes their case. After a bail hearing, the court may approve a bail request, which in simple words means that the court allows the person to be free while the case is in the court system. 

In a bail hearing, the defendant is brought before the judge who will announce the specific conditions that must be met by the defendant. These conditions are often regarding employment requirements, travel limitations, drug and alcohol testing, psychiatric treatment, or periodic meetings with an officer to check-in.

There are four possible results during a bail hearing: 

  1. Acknowledgment: it is a written commitment that the defendant has to comply with the court’s requirements of visiting court on the date set. There’s no monetary, cash deposit, or any other property assurance required. 
  2. Unsecured bond: it is a written agreement on the defendant’s behalf to comply with the court’s requirements of visiting court on the date set, whereby the defendant accepts to lose the right to their money in favor of the court if they break the aforementioned agreement.  
  3. Secured bond: it is a written agreement secured by a cash deposit, a property, or a third party offer, made on the defendant’s behalf to comply with the court’s requirements of visiting court on the date set. If the defendant breaks the agreement, the judge can seize any type of security.
  4. Unacceptable bond: the defendant is denied release by the judge who will re-examine the crime’s evidence. 

Essentially, the most important bail condition is that the suspect obey all laws

Options for paying Bail

There are many options when it comes to paying bail. It can be done by the following forms

  • Cash or check for the full amount of the bail.
  • Property worth the full amount of the bail.
  • A bond (that is, a guaranteed payment of the full bail amount).
  • A waiver of payment on the condition that the defendant appears in court at the required time (commonly called release on one’s “own recognizance”).

Having to pay bail in a cash-only format might be difficult for many people. This is why a bond appears as the easier deal. According to Nolo, a legal advisor site, the problem is that buying a bond may cost more in the long run. But, let’s focus on these two formats and take a closer look.

What is a Bail Bond?

A bail bond is a promise made by the accused to appear for trial or pay a sum of money set by the court. A bail bondsman is responsible to co-sign the agreement with the defendant. In return, they charge the defendant a fee to also guarantee the payment. 

The bail bond is a type of surety bond that serves to guarantee the defendant will appear for trial.

Commonly, a bond costs 10% out of the bail amount, in some cases a bail bondsman might charge additional fees. 

How a Bail Bond Works

After having a bail hearing before a judge, the defendant is usually given the option of paying bail. The amount of the bail varies by country and jurisdiction. As aforementioned, this amount is generally so high, the defendant is unable to pay it. 

For example, a defendant charged with a nonviolent misdemeanor could see bail set at $500. Felony crime charges have correspondingly high bail, around $20,000 or more.

For this reason, many people are forced to get a bail bond arrangement. This is done through a bail bondsman. Both, defendant and the bail bondsman sign an agreement in which it’s stated that the bail will be paid in full as long as the defendant complies with the court’s requirements for trial. 

Bail bondsmen usually charge the defendant 10% of the bail amount upfront in return for their service. Some bail bondsmen also require the defendant to give them another form of property securities, such as jewelry, cars, houses, even stocks, and bonds. 

Benefits of using a Bail Bond

There are several benefits of using a bail bond:

  • A bail bondsman can offer the defendant knowledge on how to get a quicker release since they are familiarized with the judicial process. Not to mention, due to the time they have had working in several cases, they have developed professional relationships with individuals working in the system. 
  • Even though people need to pay around 10% for a bail bond service, it offers the defendant flexible payment plans, getting the person out of the upfront payment situation courts usually demand. 
  • Unlike the court and officers’ treatment, a bail bondsman also offers a more personal humane treatment since they do not see their clients as criminals. Being in that kind of situation is already demoralizing enough, working with a bail bondsman is a more personalized situation. 

Disadvantages of using a Bail Bond

However, there are also some disadvantages worthy to take into consideration:

  • It is considered to be discriminatory. Some low-income people are unable to even pay the 10% fee bail bondsmen charge in return for their services. Defendants can also fail to provide the rest of the bail-in collateral securities. PrisonPolicy.org states that about 536,000 people are being held in jails in the U.S. because they cannot afford bail or a bail bondsman’s services.
  • Besides, unlike the bail paid in court, the 10% paid to a bail bondsman is non-refundable.
  • Using a Bail Bond usually means more paperwork, which could take more time than paying a cash bail. 
What is a cash only bond
via Shutterstock

What is a cash-only bond?

As its name states, a cash-only bond is a bail that the defendant must pay entirely in cash. When a judge dictates a cash-only bond it means that the defendant will only be released from custody after the full amount is paid. 

Cash-only bonds vary according to jurisdictions. In some, it is allowed to use some kind of secure payment types, such as a debit or credit card. But most jurisdictions only accept actual cash, with no option to give back change if the payment is not exact. 

Why Are Cash only Bonds ordered?

Since a cash-only bond is the strictest type of bond ordered by a judge, people usually wonder why and when it is ordered then. The reason cash-only bonds even exist is for cases where judges analyze the defendant as too risky to let them commit to the court’s requirements for the trial. In simpler words, they have a high risk of disappearing and not showing up in court. 

However, there’s another reason. In some cases, the cash-only bond is dictated as a result of the defendant’s failing to pay a prior bail or appearing before the court on the date set. 

For both of the aforementioned cases, a cash-only bond acts as insurance for the court to receive a payment if the defendant fails the court’s requirements.

What is a cash only bond
via Bail Bonds Denver

Benefits of a Cash only Bond

There are some benefits of getting a cash-only bond dictum, like the following:

  • In contradistinction to a bail bond, in a cash-only bond, there are no third parties involved. 
  • If the defendant succeeds in showing up at court as established by the terms and conditions of the bail, the entire amount of the bail will be returned. 
  • There’s less to minimum paperwork, making the defendant’s releasing quicker. 
  • There are also no extra fees to pay. 

The cons of a Cash only Bond

However as there is nothing perfect in this world, cash-only bonds also have some disadvantages to take into consideration, such as:

  • There are no payment plans. The defendant must pay the full amount once.
  • If the defendant fails to show up in court as established, the money will be forfeited, thus kept by the court. 
  • Even though the defendant does comply with the court’s requirements, the refund of their money is made in checks instead of cash and it can take up to 3 months. 
  • In the U.S., the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will take at least $10,000 of the refund money, for collecting taxes. Sometimes they take even more. 

What happens next?

After an accused person pays bail and it’s released from jail or custody, the ultimate question is what happens next. 

Even though the person is now free, it is important he or she strictly follows the court’s conditions set at the bail hearing. They must appear at court in all scheduled proceedings. 

Not complying with the court’s conditions, or not appearing in court as established, will result not only in the bond being forfeited but also in issuing an arrest warrant. Once a bond is forfeited, it becomes the jurisdiction’s property and it will no longer be refunded.

The criminal judicial system can be complicated and stressful, so be sure to get a qualified attorney who addresses any particular legal needs and explains how the law works. 

About the Author: Steve Drimwood

Steve actually started writing for Cash Jargon from day one. With a passion for money at an early age Steve managed to be financially secured before the age of 30.

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