The process of being arrested and booked into a county jail isn’t fun. Not only is it stressful, but it can be confusing. Legal jargon can sometimes be staggering, and important information may take longer to process because of it. This only results in more stress and time wasted. ABC Bail Bonds looks out for the Houston community and goes above and beyond to serve Houston County residents. To lessen as much stress as possible, we’ve compiled a list of the most common terms used around bail bonds.

First, What Exactly is a Bail Bond?

A bail bond is a contract between the defendant, their consignee, and the bail bond company. It’s purpose is giving assurance to the court that the defendant will appear for their scheduled court dates. As a result of that, the court allows for the release of the inmate. This allows the defendant to return to their lives and prepare for what’s ahead. Because bail is typically expensive, bail bond companies step in to help. When you use a bail bond company, you only pay 10% of the bail amount to release an inmate.

RELATED: Turning Yourself In? What You Need to Know

Common Legal Terms for Bail Bonds

Arrest: when someone is taken into police custody for breaking the law or being suspected of breaking the law. Once this person is booked in jail, they’re referred to as an inmate.

Bail: a set amount of money that must be paid in order to release someone from jail. Typically, the more severe the crime or alleged crime, the higher the bail amount.

Bail Bond: a written agreement between a defendant, their representative, and a bail bondsman. This states that the bail bonds company will pay the full bail amount if the defendant does not appear on a scheduled court date.

Bail Bondsman: an entity that helps when a defendant is unable to pay the full bail amount. After paying 10% of the bail amount to the bondsman, they post the bail and release the inmate. This, of course, comes with the understanding that the defendant will appear for their court dates. A bail bondsman acts as a surety (definition below).

Bond Premium: this is the payment to the bonding company for their service. In the state of Texas this is 10% of the total bail amount, so if bail is $10,000 the bond premium would be $1,000.

Bail Conditions: these are terms set by the court to ensure the defendant will appear for their scheduled court dates. 

Collateral: this is anything that the defendant gives to guarantee that the bondsman is paid in full. Collateral is the property—or anything else of value—forfeited by the defendant in the case that they fail to meet the conditions of their bond agreement. Collateral acts as an insurance of sorts to ensure the full bail amount is paid.

Defendant: the individual being accused of committing a crime.

Felony: considered a major criminal offense. If a person is accused or charged with a felony, the bail amount will generally be set very high.

Forfeiture: this happens when a defendant does not appear for court, or skips court. In this case, the bondsman is ultimately forced to pay the full bail amount. If the defendant doesn’t appear for their scheduled court date, the court notifies the bail bond company and sets a second date. If the defendant skips court again, they will order the bail bond company to pay.

Indemnitor: this is any person who represents the defendant, typically as a cosigner, for the defendant’s bail bond. The indemnitor is responsible for paying the full amount if the defendant doesn’t appear for their court date.

Misdemeanor: a criminal offense less serious than a felony. While all criminal offenses are serious, misdemeanors carry a light sentence and are usually resolved with a simple fine.

Surety: any person who takes responsibility for the defendant’s appearance in court. A bail bondsman, for example, acts as a surety.

SEE: Will You Get Your Bail Money Back?

ABC Bail Bonds

While you don’t want to be in a tough legal bind, it’s useful to know these important legal terms. If in the event you need a fast and reputable company to release someone from jail, call ABC Bail Bonds of Houston. Our agents act fast, and operate with integrity for Harris County residents. We operate twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. No other bail bond company in Harris County bails you out faster than ABC Bail Bonds of Houston. For more bail bonds information or to bail someone out of jail today, contact us.