How Do Property Bonds Work in Georgia?

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Arrested defendants often have options for being released from jail before their trial date, one of which is posting a property bond. In consideration for the eligible value of a defendant’s real property, a judge may order the release of the defendant, pending trial. In Georgia, the sheriff’s office in each county establishes its requirements and procedures for posting property bonds.

Bail vs. Bail Bonds

Paying bail is not the same as posting a bail bond. Bail is the money that a defendant pays to the court to be conditionally released from jail with the promise that he will appear in court for his scheduled hearing(s). If the defendant fails to appear in court, he not only forfeits the bail money, but he’s also returned to jail.

Bail bonds are pledged by a bail bond agent or bonding company when a defendant cannot pay his bail. Typically, the defendant pays 10 percent of the bail amount as a non-refundable fee to the bail bondsman. The bail bondsman then pays the defendant’s bail – or a portion of it, at the judge’s discretion – and the defendant is released from jail, pending his trial.

Read More: How Do Bail Bonds Work

Types of Bail Bonds

To post bond in Georgia, defendants have different bond options, including posting a cash bond, a recognizance/release bond or a property bond. A judge approves or denies a recognizance/release bond, which doesn’t require a payment. A bonding company pays a cash bond, and the county sheriff approves or denies a property bond. The Cobb County, Georgia, sheriff’s office notes that it may take multiple bonds to satisfy the total amount required for release, depending on the charges against someone.

How Georgia Property Bonds Work

If someone is arrested in Georgia, she may post a property bond if her property is eligible as collateral. In some counties, such as Cobb County, the owner must have at least twice the amount of bail in equity in her property, regardless of the value of the property. Even if her home is valued at $200,000, she must have $50,000 equity in the property, for example, if her bail is set at $25,000. In other counties, such as Clayton, the property owner must have equity that’s at least equal to the amount of bail plus $10,000 to cover the homestead exemption.

Property Bond Details

Although each Georgia county has variations in its property bond requirements, general guidelines include being able to produce a warranty deed or quit claim deed, proof that property taxes are current, proof that mortgage payments are current, and proof of equity.

In some counties, the property must be residential and located in the county where the bond is needed to secure someone’s release from custody. In other counties, such as Clayton County, property may be located in another county, but the sheriff’s office in that county must issue a transfer bond.

According to Georgia Code Section 15-16-21, a sheriff’s department may charge a non-refundable bond fee of $20 cash for each property bond.

Georgia Property Bond Consequences

Depending on the amount of the property bond, the sheriff’s office may obtain a Deed to Secure Debt, which places a lien on the property. After someone takes out a property bond to secure his release from custody, it’s imperative that he does not miss any court appearances. If he does, the court can file foreclosure proceedings against the property.