Liberty Bail Bonds
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Forms of Bail


Surety | Cash | Recognizance | Citation Release

Property Bond | Orders of Protection | Combinations

Surety - when a third party agrees to be responsible for the debt or obligation of the defendant. In many jurisdictions this service is provided commercially by a bail bondsman, where the agent will receive 10% of the bail amount up front and will keep that amount whether the defendant appears in court or not. The court in many jurisdictions, especially jurisdictions that prohibit bail bondsmen, may demand a certain amount of the total bail (typically 10%) be given to the court, which, unlike with bail bondsmen, is returned if the defendant does not violate the conditions of bail.

In most common law jurisdictions, a contract of suretyship is subject to the statute of frauds (or its equivalent local laws) and is only enforceable if memorialized by a writing signed by the surety. If the surety is required to pay or perform due to the principal's failure to do so, the law will usually give the surety a right of subrogation, allowing him to recover the cost to him of making payment or performance on the principal's behalf, even in the absence of an express agreement to that effect between the surety and the principal.

The act of becoming a surety is also called a guaranty. Traditionally a guaranty was distinguished from a surety in that the surety's liability was joint and primary with the principal, wherease the guaranty's liability was ancillary and derivative, but many jurisdictions have abolished this distinction.

In the United States, Under Article 3 of the Uniform Commercial Code, a person who signs a negotiable instrument as a surety is termed an accommodation party; such a party may be able to assert defenses to the enforcement of an instrument not available to the maker of the instrument.

A surety bond is a contract between at least three parties: (1) the principal, (2) the obligee, and (3) the surety. Through this agreement, the surety agrees to make the obligee whole (usually by payment of money) if the principal defaults in its performance of its promise to the obligee. The contract is formed so as to induce the obligee to contract with the principal, i.e., to demonstrate the credibility of the principal.

Suretyship bonds originated hundreds of years ago as a mechanism through which trade over long distance could be encouraged. They are frequently used in the construction industry: in order to obtain a contract to build the project, the general contractor (and often the sub-contractors as well) must provide the owner a bond for its performance of the terms of the contract. Conversely, owners and contractors may also provide payment bonds to ensure that subcontractors and suppliers are paid for work done. Under the Miller Act, payment and performance bonds are required for general contractors on all U.S. federal government construction projects where the contract price exceeds $100,000.00.

A key term in nearly every surety bond is the penal sum. This is a specified amount of money which is the maximum amount that the surety will be required to pay in the event of the principal's default. This allows the surety to assess the risk involved in giving the bond; the premium charged is determined accordingly.
If the principal defaults and the surety turns out to be insolvent, the purpose of the bond is rendered nugatory. Thus, the surety on a bond is usually an insurance company whose solvency is verified by private audit, governmental regulation, or both.
The principal will pay a premium (usually annually) in exchange for the bonding company's financial strength to extend surety credit. In the event of a claim, the surety will investigate it. If it turns out to be a valid claim, the surety will pay it and then turn to the principal for reimbursement of the amount paid on the claim and any legal fees incurred.

Cash - to be released on cash bail, an individual must post with the court the total amount of the bail, in cash, to secure his or her return to court on an appointed date, and thereafter until the case is concluded. Full cash bonds provide a powerful incentive for defendants to appear at trial. If the defendant shows up for his/her scheduled court appearances, the cash is returned to him/her. If s/he fails to appear, the cash bond is forfeited to the court.

Recognizance - a promise made by the accused to the court that he/she will attend all required judicial proceedings and will not engage in further illegal activity or other prohibited conduct as set by the court. Typically a monetary amount is set by the court, but is not paid by the defendant unless it is forfeited by the court; this is denominated an unsecured appearance bond.

In British and American law, the term recognizance is usually employed to describe an obligation of record, entered into before some court or magistrate duly authorized, whereby the party bound acknowledges (recognizes) that he owes a personal debt to the government. This debt is generally subject to a condition that the obligation to pay shall be avoided if he shall do some particular act, as if he shall appear at the assizes, keep the peace, or the like.

Recognizance is most often encountered regarding bail in criminal cases. By filing a bail bond with the court, the defendants will usually be released from imprisonment pending a trial or appeal. If no bail has been set, the defendants are released "on their own recognizance."

Citation Release - This procedure, known as the "Cite Out," involves the issuance of a citation by the arresting officer to the arrestee, informing the arrestee that he or she must appear at an appointed court date.

The Cite Out usually occurs immediately after an individual is arrested. As a consequence of the failure to follow complete booking procedures, the true identity and background of most individuals released on citation is never established. This results in the release of numerous arrestees who may have outstanding bench warrants pending or who may present a significant danger to society.

Accordingly, in these cases involving Cite Outs, the arrestee may never be placed in custody, and like the own recognizance release, such an arrestee's appearance in court depends exclusively upon the integrity of the alleged felon and his or her voluntarily returning to court.

In this case, an arrestee may be "released on conditions." Here, many varied non-monetary conditions and restrictions on liberty can be imposed by a court to ensure that a person released into the community will appear in court and not commit any more crimes. Common examples include: mandatory calls to the police, surrendering passports, home detention, electronic monitoring, drug testing, alcohol counseling, surrendering firearms.

Property bond - In rare cases an individual may obtain release from custody by means of posting a property bond with the court. Here the court records a lien on property, to secure the bail amount. If the arrestee subsequently fails to appear at the scheduled court date, the court may institute foreclosure proceedings against the property to obtain the forfeited bail amount.

Orders of Protection - one very common feature of any conditional release, whether on bail, bond or condition, is a court order requiring the defendant to refrain from criminal activity against the alleged crime victim, or stay away from and have no contact with the alleged crime victim. The former is a limited order, the latter a full order. Violation of the order can subject the defendant to automatic forfeiture of bail and further fine or imprisonment.

Combinations - courts often allow defendants to post cash bail or bond, and then impose further conditions, as mentioned above, in order to protect the community or ensure attendance.
Bail may be forfeited, and the defendant remanded to jail, for failure to appear when required.