A bail bond is a court-ordered cash amount promised or paid to ensure the defendant in a criminal case will appear in court. Once bonded out, the defendant must follow restrictions and rules placed on him by the bonding company. If the rules are not followed, the bond can be revoked. Whether the defendant must pay a revoked bond in full depends on the reason for revocation.
What Is a Bond
The bond amount is set by a judge. Once it is paid or promised depending on the state, the defendant is released from custody and allowed to remain out of jail for the case duration. in some states, including Kentucky, 100 percent cash bonds are the only bond accepted. This means if a judge sets the bond at $10,000, the entire $10,000 must be paid to the court to hold until the case is resolved. Whether or not the defendant is found guilty, if she has complied with all bond terms, when the case is resolved, her bond is returned to her or her appointed representatives. In other states, including Tennessee, a defendant can pay 10 percent of the bond amount to a bondsman and the bondsman guarantees the defendant will appear in court throughout his case. If the defendant fails to appear at all hearings, the bondsman must pay the full amount to the court. The only other option is to locate and return the defendant to jail within a mandated time frame. The 10 percent plus a small bond fee are never returned to the defendant. It is payment for the bondsman guaranteeing the balance if the defendant absconds.
A judge can revoke bond for a number of reasons. Each state has laws regarding when bond can be revoked, but essentially all states allow it if the defendant fails to comply with bond restrictions. Restrictions on each bond are individual, but typically include keeping in touch with the bond company, not getting drunk or using drugs, and not leaving the county without permission from the bonding company. Getting arrested for a new charge is also grounds for bond revocation.
Failure to Appear or FTA
If a bond is revoked due the defendant's failure to appear in court, the defendant is ultimately responsible for the bond amount. In states that require a 100 percent cash bond to get out of jail, the defendant who does not appear in court forfeits the entire amount. In states where the defendant paid 10 percent plus a bond fee to a bond company, the bondsman is initially responsible to pay the court. Then the bondsman can seek restitution from the defendant.
When bond is revoked for other reasons, such as leaving the county without permission or if the bond company determines the defendant is a flight risk, the defendant does not usually have to pay the full amount. For example, a defendant out on $10,000 bond is judged to be a flight risk by the bond company. They request to be taken off the bond. The judge agrees and revokes the bond, sending the defendant back to jail. The defendant loses the $1,000 she paid plus the bond fee, but does not have to pay the $10,000, nor does the bond company have to pay it. In the case of a full cash bond, the entire cash bond is returned to the defendant or her representatives at the time she returns to jail on a revoked bond status.
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