Bail Bond Store and bail are used interchangeably by many people. Although they are both important features of the judicial process relating to the release of an accused from jail, they mean very different things.
When someone is arrested, they may be eligible for bail. Bail is set during a bail hearing by a judge or justice of the peace. Bail is money paid to the court to secure a defendants release. Once bail is posted, the defendant is freed from jail but is still obligated to appear at all scheduled court appointments. If they fail to do so, the bail money may be kept by the court. Once the criminal proceedings are finished and regardless of outcome, if the defendant has appeared before the court as ordered the bail money will be returned. The bail money merely acts an incentive and collateral to ensure the accused appear as ordered by the court.
In some cases, defendants can not or do not want to post the entire bail amount themselves. Bail bondsmen are available to assist defendants in this situation. They will put forth a bail bond on behalf of an accused. However, the bail bond is not the entire bail amount. It is a smaller amount that promises to the court the full bail amount if the defendant does not appear as ordered. If the defendant does appear as scheduled, the bail bond will be returned to the bail bondsman.
The purpose of bail is really two fold. Primarily, it allows an innocent person to avoid needlessly being incarcerated while awaiting their trial. Additionally, bail gives the defendant time and freedom to prepare their defense.
The judicial system relies on bail as an important piece of the puzzle. As such, bail bondsmen are a vital element in ensuring the system works properly.