Exoneration is the final step in the bail process. However, it only takes place if the defendant -- the person freed after posting cash or a bail bond -- meets every condition laid out in the bond order, from the date of the bond hearing to the sentencing, dismissal or acquittal date. It applies in situations where the court allows you to post bail with a surety bond.
Bail is a process in which you exchange a sum of money for release from police custody until your case is adjudicated. If the amount is more than you can afford, the court may allow you to contract with a commercial bail bondsman. In return for a nonrefundable fee, either in cash or a combination of a cash fee and collateral like real estate or a vehicle, the bond agent promises to pay the outstanding balance to the court if you fail to meet the bond conditions. According to FindLaw, a fee of 10 percent to 20 percent of the total bond is common.
Exonerating a Bail Bond
After posting bail, the court will issue a bail order. However, your continuing freedom is subject to specific terms and conditions. In addition to mandatory attendance at all court hearings, a bail order may impose travel restrictions or a curfew, require that you get substance abuse or psychological treatment, or revoke gun ownership privileges. If you meet all these conditions, the court will issue an exoneration order releasing the bondsman from any further responsibility for your continuing cooperation on the day the case ends. If you pledged collateral, it will be returned at that time.