Understanding the Legalities Behind Bail Bonds

Understanding the Legalities Behind Bail Bonds

Once someone is arrested, they’ll be given a hearing date and a bail amount, a set sum of money that the judge will consider before releasing them.

The bail bond industry is supposed to save taxpayers money by getting defendants out of jail and ensuring they appear in court.


Bail such as Lackawanna County bail bonds is a form of release before a court trial and is intended to ensure defendants turn up when required. It can also protect a community from individuals who may try to flee.

Typically, bail is set by a judge. They look at flight risk and other factors to determine a bond amount.

There are three main types of bail bonds: Signature/Own Recognizance (OR), Unsecured, Secured, and Cash Only. The latter type requires a co-signer to pay a specific amount or provide the court with security, such as a title to property worth at least as much.

Insurance Companies

The commercial bail bond industry makes billions of dollars in bonds backed by insurance companies. In theory, it is supposed to save taxpayers money by helping defendants show up for their court dates and getting them out of jail.

However, the legalities behind bail bonds are murky and complex. They can greatly impact people, particularly those who are poor or of color.

Among other things, they can require victims to pay a higher premium than the law allows. They also can owe a nonrefundable fee even if someone is found not guilty at trial or the charges are dropped.

These costs are often pushed onto the people who can least afford them, most often the poor and black and brown communities. That’s why it’s so important for policymakers to take action to rein in the bail industry and protect their clients.


Bail is a way for the criminal justice system to ensure a defendant appears in court, whenever that may be. However, some people cannot afford to post bail.

Often, this is where bail bond agents come in. They charge a fee, or “premium,” for a bond and may ask for collateral, something valuable that the agent keeps while the defendant is out on bail to make sure they follow court orders.


Collateral is anything of value that you or a co-signer offer as security for bail bonds. This can include cash, property, a deed to your home, or anything valuable.

Bail bond agents require collateral to protect themselves from the risk of losing money. They can sell the collateral to recoup their losses if the defendant doesn’t return for court appearances or follow their court orders.

Real estate is the most common type of collateral bail bond agents offer. However, many other types of collateral can be accepted as well. Examples of other collateral options include bank accounts, surety bonds, and even jewelry.