How Does a Cash Bond Work?

By Jackie Lohrey - Updated January 29, 2018
Cash in hands

A cash-only bond is typical in legal cases where a judge considers the defendant to be a moderate flight risk. This type of bond is often the result of actions such as failing to pay fines in prior court cases. In these situations, a cash bond ensures that the court will receive payment if the defendant fails to show up for further court proceedings.

Tip

A cash bond acts much like any other bond except it's not secured by property or other collateral.

How Cash Bonds Work

A cash bond means the court will accept only cash for the full amount of bail, not a bond that's secured by equity in property or other collateral. You'll be released from policy custody in exchange for the cash. If the bond amount is $700, you’ll have to post the full amount in cash or by using a secure payment such as a debit or credit card to get out of jail. Most jurisdictions require exact payment and will not provide change.

Who Can Post a Cash Bond?

Courts typically allow the defendant, a family member or a third-party, such as a friend or a bail bondsman who deals in cash bonds, to post the money. Keep in mind, however, that if you’re eventually convicted of the crime you've been charged with, the court might not return the full amount even if you comply with all the terms and conditions of the bond. State laws usually allow a judge to apply a cash bond toward any penalties and fines the court may impose as part of your punishment. And, of course, if you fail to show up at your next court appearance, the money is typically forfeited.

How to Post a Cash Bond

Although specific procedures for posting a cash bond can vary by state and sometimes even by county, it’s usually a simple matter of just paying the bond at the jail’s cashier window. The cashier will usually issue a bond receipt in the payer's name unless she's been instructed otherwise. It’s important to make sure that a third party gets the receipt in your name if he pays the bond for you using your own money. This way, you'll be the one to receive the refund if there is one.

What Happens Next

A cash bond works the same way as any other bond after you post it and when you're released from jail. You must comply with any conditions attached to the bond and attend all court proceedings as long as the case is pending. Failure to comply or bail jumping could result in a judge issuing a bench warrant for your arrest and revoking the bond.

The court will hold the money in a trust account when you post a cash bond, and it stays there until the completion of the case. If you’re found not guilty, the court will exonerate the bond and return the money. If you’re found guilty, the court will still exonerate the bond, but it may keep some or all of the money.

About the Author

Based in Green Bay, Wisc., Jackie Lohrey has been writing professionally since 2009. In addition to writing web content and training manuals for small business clients and nonprofit organizations, including ERA Realtors and the Bay Area Humane Society, Lohrey also works as a finance data analyst for a global business outsourcing company.

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