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What is a “Bond” and How Does it Work?

Courts always require some form of “bond” to secure a defendant’s appearance. Many defendants are not even aware that they are on bond, as most cases do not require any formal payment or signatures. We commonly see three general bond types throughout Ohio courts. While the types of bond are fairly consistent, courts sometimes use differently terminology to describe the bond.

The first (and least restrictive) type is a “recognizance bond.” A recognizance bond is little more than a promise to appear in court, without any additional security. In felony cases, a defendant is often required to sign paperwork as proof of the promise to appear. It is often referred to as a signature bond. In Ohio, prosecutors can separate criminal charges for failure to appear on a recognizance bond. Sometimes courts add financial conditions to the recognizance bond. For instance, a court may impose a $5,000.00 recognizance bond. In this situation, the defendant is not required to post any money in advance. But the court can order payment of $5,000.00 if the defendant fails to appear and the prosecutor can seek additional criminal charges.

The next type of bond is sometimes referred to as an “appearance bond” or a “ten percent bond.” This type of bond requires a defendant to post funds with the court. Then, at the end of the case, the court will refund the bond money (less expenses) if the defendant appeared as required. It is called a “ten percent bond” because it generally requires ten percent of the bond amount. For instance, if a court sets a $10,000.00 appearance bond, the defendant must post $1,000.00 (ten percent of $10,000.00) with the court to secure his appearance. At the end of the case, the clerk will refund $1,000.00, less expense. Courts typically hold back ten percent of the amount posted for fees and expenses. In the example above, the court would keep $100.00. Also, courts often retain funds on the books to satisfy court costs and fines.

The most costly form of bond is typically a “cash or surety” bond. A cash bond requires full payment of the bond amount to the court in advance. The full amount is then refunded, if appropriate, at the close of the case. A surety bond usually involves a bondsman. Bondsman operate like insurance carriers. They charge of “premium” and then post surety for the entire bond amount with the court. Bondsman typically charge ten percent of the bond amount for the premium. For instance, assume a court sets bond in the amount of $100,000.00 in the form of cash or surety. The defendant then has a choice. If the funds are available, he can post $100,000.00 with the court and expect a refund at the end of the case. But if the funds are not available, the defendant can hire a bondsman. The bondsman will likely charge ten percent, or $10,000.00, as a premium. They will then file a guarantee with the court for the entire bond amount ($100,000.00). Unfortunately, the premium paid to a bondsman is not refundable.

Bond types can vary and may be partial cash or surety, partial appearance, and partial recognizance. Courts can also attach other conditions to bond. Courts commonly restrict travel, impose reporting requirements, and forbid certain activities (like alcohol consumption) as conditions of bond. We work closely with several trustworthy bondsman and can provide referrals and contacts as necessary.

If you have been charged with a crime or believe charges may be filed against you, contact our Ohio criminal attorneys by calling 614-224-6142 or filling out the web contact form to arrange an appointment.

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