The Different Variations of Bail

We often hear about high-profile cases where an accused person’s bail is set at a very high amount. In exceptional cases (or if the person is considered a threat to others), bail may be denied and the accused may have no choice to stay in jail as they await trial. That being said, how does the average person post bail after being arrested and charged with a crime? And what if they cannot pay their bail amount upfront?

There are several different types of bail, and some are used less frequently than others. If you or a family member is arrested, it’s important to know about the different types of bail that judges might order (depending on the charges, criminal history and other factors).

Cash Bail
Cash bail simply means that the accused pays the full bail amount in cash. The court may also accept checks, or even a credit card. This is often used in cases where the judge is not sure whether the defendant will show up for court, or when he or she has unpaid fines or fees from other cases.

Surety Bond
Most people don’t have the funds available to pay their bail charges in full. A surety bond often involves a friend or family member of the accused contacting a local bail bondsman. A local bail bondsman is supported by a special type of insurance company, and pledges to pay the full value of the bond if the accused fails to appear in court.

Property Bond
If you do not have cash on hand and prefer not to work with a local bail bondsman, you can also put up property as collateral. However, the property must be valued at least twice the cost of bail.

Release on Own Recognizance (OR)
A judge may choose to release a suspect on his own recognizance, meaning that he or she is responsible for appearing at court dates and is excused from paying bail. This arrangement is only allowed when the crime is nonviolent, and the suspect is not considered dangerous or a flight risk.