Those who have experienced going to jail and being convicted of a crime have often wondered: where does the bail money go? For parents, friends or colleagues who have bailed a loved one out of jail, the curious sentiment remains: “will I get my bail money back?” While there isn’t always a straight answer, there are guidelines and requirements that help clear the picture. For instance, while the term “bail bonds” are often used in conjunction with one another, bail is very different from a bond.

Bail vs. Bond

When navigating the court system, it’s important to understand the difference between bail and bond. Additionally, it’s important to know how they relate to one another.

Bail: this is money paid to the court system to secure your release from jail. It also works as a type of agreement that ensures you’ll appear for your first court date. Bail also refers to the entirety of the amount; for instance, if bail is set at $1,000, you must pay the full $1,000 to be released from jail.

Bond: this amount is much less than bail. A bond amount is typically 10% of the total bail, and can be secured with a bail bond company. However, when purchasing a bond to be released from jail, the bail bond company becomes responsible for the defendant in the eyes of the court. The defendant absolutely must attend all future court hearings, or else the bail bond company is responsible. This is why when purchasing a bond, another person typically acts on behalf of the defendant; this makes them responsible. If bail is set at $1,000, around $100 is needed to get out of jail.

When reviewing all possible options, it initially seems like a bond is the best route to go. However, while this may be the fastest and easiest option, each case differs. Some individuals being detained haven’t been convicted of a crime, or are innocent. Different cases call for different routes around the court system.

RELATED: When Can Courts Deny Bail?

Getting Bail Money Back

One major distinction between bail and a bond (besides how much you pay) is what you’re able to have returned after your trial. One of the biggest differences between bail and bonds become clear when looking into the specifics of the trial. With bail, if the charges are dropped or you are found innocent, your bail money will be returned to you. With that being said, any court costs or fees associated with you will be deducted from the total bail money first. If you are not the defendant and you posted bail for someone else—and the charges ultimately dropped—let the defendant’s attorney know. If you make prior arrangements, the attorney may be able to ensure any court costs are paid by the defendant. However, we must note that this isn’t guaranteed.

On the other hand, a bond won’t be returned to the defendant (regardless of the case’s outcome) because you used a service to get you out of jail. So if you paid $200 to a bail bond company where bail was set at $2,000, that $100 is gone and won’t be applied to court fees. When you look at the bigger picture, it is much easier to pay for a bond and get out of jail early than to pay the full bail. While you may get your bail money back, it’s a large amount to pay for the same results as investing only 10%.

RELATED: How to Use Credit to Your Advantage With a Bail Bond

Case by Case

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Again, it all depends on the individual and the case in question. If someone was wrongfully arrested and innocent, meaning it’s very likely any charges will drop, bail may save you 10% in the long run. That is, if they’re able to afford the full amount. However, for most criminal cases, a bond is a much more affordable and effective route to get out of jail early.

If you believe you were wrongly arrested or you stand a good chance to beat any charges (and can afford it) bail may be a good option. However, if the bail amount is set high, it may be smarter to invest 10% of that amount to quickly return to your life. For many Texans, the imminent importance of work, family, and daycare can’t afford any time off. In these cases, utilizing a bail bond company would be best to minimize any negative impact of jail time.

In the end, the only thing that guarantees the return of your bail money is if you either beat the charges or attend all of your court dates. With a bail bond, you only forfeit 10% of the total bail bond and don’t have to spend a single night in jail. Likewise, you don’t have to put your life on pause while waiting until the end of your trial to see your money back.

RELATED: Why You Need a Bail Bond ASAP (Don’t Sit in Jail!)

ABC Bail Bonds

ABC Bail Bonds has over 25 years of experience serving all of Harris County and surrounding areas. We are Houston’s oldest bail bonds company with the fastest release time. We make it as easy as possible to get a bail bond and secure someone’s release from jail. In addition to payment plans and financing options, we allow co-signers to further ensure no one stays a single night in jail. Our office is located right down the street from Harris County Jail and next to the old Houston courthouse, allowing us to act quickly. We offer free consultations, advice, and legal know-how for any Texas residents, no appointment required. To find out more about how we can serve you or release anyone from jail, call our office today.