Where Does the Money Go? (And three Other Common Bail Bond Questions)

Those who have never before experienced the type of contact with law enforcement that ended with being arrested often have little knowledge of the bail bond system and how it works. This can lead to confusion later when they or someone they love is arrested and placed in jail to await arraignment.

If you have little or no experience with bail bonds, the following information can help answer some of the most common questions asked about this type of surety bond arrangement.  

What is bail? 

Bail money is defined as funds used by an accused person to guarantee that they will appear in court as directed. If the person does not meet the terms of the agreement on which their bail money was accepted, their bail money is forfeited. 

Where does bail money go? 

If the bail money is a cash payment made directly to the court by the arrested party or a private party on their behalf, the money is held in an account overseen by the court until the conditions of the bail agreement are met. Once that occurs, the court releases the money back to the person who posted the bail, according to their policies and laws.

If the bail money was posted by a bail bond agent who agreed to post the bond in return for an agreed upon non-refundable fee, the bail bond agent receives the refund of the bail money when the arrested party meets all conditions of their bail. 

What happens to the bail money if a court date is missed? 

Individuals who are free on bail are required to meet all terms of their bail bond agreement. If they fail to appear (FTA), the court can immediately revoke their bond and issue a bench warrant for their arrest. When this happens, the court can refuse to accept further bail agreements for the defendant or insist upon a much higher bond amount than the original one posted. 

When a bail bond agent has issued the bail money to the court, they can actively track and apprehend the fugitive. If located and apprehended within a certain time frame, the bail bond agent may be able to recoup the bail money they paid on behalf of the fugitive. 

The ability to use a bail bond agent for the purpose of paying bail can be very beneficial to those who are unable or unwilling to use their own money to post bail after an arrest. A reputable bail bond agent will be happy to explain how the bail bond process works and answer any questions you may have.