Will You Get Your Bail Money Back?

A gavel and handcuffs on top of one hundred dollar bills.

Facing criminal charges is a stressful situation. Staying behind bars until court proceedings begin is not always the best strategy. Paying the bail amount is a way for you or your loved one to be released until it is time to face a judge in a court appearance. The bail amount ensures the defendant will not interfere with justice and attend all court proceedings. Thankfully, the purpose of bail does not have anything to do with the guilt or innocence of the accused. Unfortunately, posting cash bail or any bond amount can be expensive, and a refund of the total bail amount is not always guaranteed. Let’s dive into the circumstances of whether or not you can get your bail bond money back.


Do You Get Your Bail Money Back?

Facing the unfortunate situation of having to pay bail is not commonplace, so, understandably, there is uncertainty surrounding this topic. Getting bail money returned depends on who received the bail amount in the first place. Did you pay court fees directly to the court? Perhaps you employed the services of a bail bondsman or bail bond company? The answer to those questions will determine if you get a bail refund.


— Surety Bail

Surety bail, also referred to as a surety bond, provides financial support to pay the entire bail amount for yourself or a family member. A surety bond is a loan used to post bail fulfilled through a series of contracts. The process of obtaining a surety bond requires a few extra steps compared to the operation of cash bail.

Securing a surety bond involves one party requesting money from a bail bond agent. The bail bondsman typically requires payment of ten percent in cash of the total bail amount. The bail bondsman will also need some form of collateral to guarantee the remainder. The collateral can range from property to jewelry.

The bail bond agent will then coordinate a contract with a surety bail bond company to obtain the total amount of bail needed. Once this contract is approved, the company pays the remaining bail amount to secure the defendant’s release. A surety bond is a good option when money is tight.


— Cash Bail 

Cash bail is the money paid to get someone out of jail after their initial arrest. The money guarantees that the defendant will return to face any required court appearances. Once the defendant fulfills all court proceedings, you get the bail money back. If the defendant does not show up for court hearings, you will not get the bail money back. Cash bail is typically determined by a “schedule” of sorts, based on the type of alleged offense.


— Property Bond 

A property bond can be helpful if cash is not readily available to bail yourself or a loved one out of jail. The property’s value determines the bail amount. The property’s value may need to be at least twice as much as the bail amount in some cases. Historical tax documents determine the property’s value. The state’s laws will affect how the property’s value is assessed. If more than one person owns the property, each owner must state their agreement to use the property to finance the bond in writing.

The court places a lien against the property for the full amount of the bail once the property bond is approved. If the defendant does not appear in mandatory court proceedings, the court can pursue foreclosure on the property. The court will collect money owed to them via the foreclosure sale to get their bail money back. When all court appearances are complete, the lien is removed.


Tips For Choosing A Bail Bondsman

After an arrest, things escalate quickly. Few people are prepared for moments like this. In the event that you have to use a bail bondsman, there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, look up customer reviews online. With information widely available on the internet, it is relatively simple to determine if a bondsman is worth the money. Secondly, avoid a company that advertises low fees. They could be deceiving customers by false advertisements. Lastly, look for a company that works with defense attorneys. Typically, these companies will have stellar reputations that you can count on.


Do You Get Bail Money Back If Found Guilty?

Court proceedings must reach a definite conclusion to determine if you can get the bail money back. If a defendant is found guilty, the bail money is returned if paid upfront to the court. If you paid a fee to a bondsman, you would not get your money back. Any money paid directly to the court is subject to a refund.


The Bottom Line

The guaranteed way to get the bail money back is by paying the total bail amount directly to the court. If you used a surety bond, those fees are non-refundable. The court will remove a lien on a property if the defendant shows up to all court appearances. When the defendant does not fulfill their responsibilities to the court, they risk losing money, property, or possibly both.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the amount of money that a person pays to get out of jail? 

The amount of money a defendant pays to get out of jail depends upon the alleged offense and the person’s criminal record if any. If using a bail bondsman service, you can expect to pay at least ten percent of the full bail amount. For example, if bail is set at $5,000, you can expect to pay $500 to secure the bail bond. If using a property bond, the property needs to be worth at least double the amount of the bail amount.


What do you get if you don’t pay your bail? 

The bail amount is set by the court system to secure the defendant’s release from jail before trial. If you cannot pay bail, there are several options to consider, including types of bonds such as a cash bond. Not paying bail or a bond will result in the defendant staying behind bars until the next court appearance.


What is the process for getting bail money back? 

If the full amount of bail is paid upfront to the court, you can expect to receive that money back once the court proceedings have reached a definite conclusion. This money is guaranteed to be refunded whether or not the defendant is found guilty. If using a bail bond or a type of bail bond service, the ten percent paid is not refundable. A bail bond agent will explain the terms before you or a loved one agree to any bail bond service.


Why would you not get your bail money back? 

If a defendant does not fulfill their court appearances, this is “skipping bail.” In this case, you will not get the bail money back. The defendant has to perform their part and appear at all court dates to get the bail money back.