Bail Bond

Business, Legal & Accounting Glossary

Definition: Bail Bond

Bail Bond

Quick Summary of Bail Bond

The money posted by a “bondsman” for a defendant who cannot afford his bail. The defendant pays a certain portion, usually 10%. If the defendant fails to appear for a court hearing, the judge can issue a warrant for his arrest and threaten to “forfeit,” or keep, the money if the defendant doesn’t appear soon. Usually, the bondsman will look for the defendant and bring him back, forcefully if necessary, in order to avoid losing the bail money.

What is the dictionary definition of Bail Bond?

Dictionary Definition

n. a bond provided by an insurance company through a bail bondsman acting as agent for the company, to secure the release from jail of an accused defendant pending trial. Usually there is a charge of 10 percent of the amount of the bond (e.g. $100 for a $1,000 bond) and often the defendant must put up some collateral like a second deed of trust or mortgage on one’s house. Upon acquittal, conviction, or other conclusion of the case, the bail bond is “exonerated” and returned to the insurance company. If the person who has been bailed out disappears and does not appear in court, the bond funds will be forfeited unless the defendant is found and returned.


Full Definition of Bail Bond

A bail bond is a contract between the accused and the bail bondsman. The bail bondsman pays the bail for the accused and the accused is then released from jail. The defendant pays a fee to the bail bondsman which the bondsman keeps after the accused is released from jail. If the accused fails to appear in court the bail bondsman losses the bond.

A bail bond is not a loan. Keep in mind the bail bondsman is charging a percentage of the bail amount, generally 10%. This amount is not returned to the client if the defendant agrees to appear in court. If a defendant chooses to use a bail bondsman they can get access to a line of credit, the defendant is generally released within a few hours of presenting the bond to the court and the defendant or their family will not have to post the entire bail in cash.

Because bail bondsmen are liable for the bail bond amount and will lose the bond if the accused does not appear in court it is not unusual for them to hire bounty hunters to track down defendants who have left town or who fail to appear in court. If a bounty hunter finds the defendant they may be paid anywhere from 10 per cent to 20 per cent of the total bail bond. This means an experienced bounty hunter who works 80 to 150 cases a year can earn anywhere from $50,000 to $80,000 annually.

Bail Bond FAQ's

What are bail bonds?

Bail bonds are the fee it takes to get out of jail. The bail bond can be paid by the defendant in full or it can be paid by a special agency that works to get people back on their feet after being arrested. The modern bail bond agency was first started back in the 1800’s by Tom and Peter P. McDonough.

They believed that a person was innocent until proven guilty and should not have to sit in jail waiting to prove their innocence. They should be free to live their lives until the court date.

What is a cash only bond?

A cash bond occurs when the judge will not allow you to be bailed out by a bond agency. This usually occurs if the judge considers you a flight risk but will still allow you out of jail.

There are some smaller bonds that must be paid such as insufficient funds on a checking account. Speeding tickets may be considered a cash bond if you have failed to pay the ticket and have had a warrant issued.

What is a bounty hunter?

A bounty hunter is someone that hunts down people that have skipped out on their bonds. Skipping out on a bond means that the person did not show up for their court date and have gone on the run to avoid being caught and returned to jail. A bounty hunter is usually required to be licensed in the state, or states, he or she practices in and they must know the laws under which they are required to operate.

Is bounty hunting really like those reality television shows?

Any real bounty hunter will tell you that their job is not nearly as exciting as the reality television shows pan it out to be. Many times they go to find the defendant and he or she is sitting at their house with some excuse as to why they did not show up at court.

There are times of excitement when the person goes on the run but those are few and far between. There is usually no “jet setting” lifestyle where they fly to some exotic place to retrieve the defendant.

If I have to post a bond myself, will I get the money back?

Once you have shown up for court on the date specified you will get your bond money back. Do not count on it being there immediately for you to pick up.

The court system has to discharge the bond money. You may not get this until your case is settled because there is still the possibility that you could skip out on your bond.

Cite Term

To help you cite our definitions in your bibliography, here is the proper citation layout for the three major formatting styles, with all of the relevant information filled in.

Page URL
Modern Language Association (MLA):
Bail Bond. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd.
January 18, 2022
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
Bail Bond. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. (accessed: January 18, 2022).
American Psychological Association (APA):
Bail Bond. Retrieved January 18, 2022
, from website:

Definition Sources

Definitions for Bail Bond are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 22nd November, 2021 | 2 Views.