A lot of people who put up money and/or collateral in order to bail out a loved one or friend do so without thinking the entire process through. They either put up the entire amount in cash or put down the 10% bail fee and the necessary collateral, and then they wait. Even if the bondsman did his duty and explained the entire process to them they may have been so involved emotionally in trying to free their loved one that they weren’t really listening all that well. Later, after the drama of coming to the rescue has faded away, they invariably start thinking about the implications of what they’ve done and start wondering at what point they’ll get their money back. Or if indeed they will get it back at all.

Getting Bail Money Back

Will You Get Your Bail Money Back? It Depends...

Whether or not a person actually gets any bail money back at the end of a legal process depends in large part on what type of bail they secured for their loved one.

  • Cash Bail - If a person bailed themselves out using their own cash or had a loved one or friend bail them out using cash whoever put up the money will be reimbursed the entire amount if the defendant makes all their scheduled court appearances. If, however, the defendant flees or gets arrested again while out on bail, or simply fails to appear as scheduled, the entire bail amount will be forfeited; i.e. no refund.
  • Surety Bail - Surety bail means enlisting the help of a bail agent. This is a cheaper way to do things either for the defendant or their loved one because the bail bonds agent usually only requires 10% of the full bail amount. The bail bonding agent isn’t going to put up the rest of the bail out of the goodness of his heart however. Either the defendant or their loved one is going to have to provide some type of insurance to protect the bondsman in case the defendant bolts. That means collateral. It can be a house, a car, expensive electronic equipment, stocks and bonds an expensive fur coat or anything else that is worth as much or more as the bail amount. With this type of bail the bondsman keeps the 10% as a fee so there is no cash refund.
  • Property Bond - A defendant or their loved one can get around using a bail bonds agent and avoid having to put up a large amount of cash if they have real property of sufficient value to cover the cost of the bail. If the property being offered meets the requirements of the court a lien will be placed upon the property for the duration of the legal proceedings. If the defendant attends all scheduled court proceedings and is found not guilty the lien will be released. If, however, the defendant violates the terms of their release, bail will be revoked and the house can be foreclosed by the court and sold to satisfy the amount of forfeited bail.

Getting Your Money (or Property) Back from the Bondsman or Court

As you can see the only time a person will receive a refund on a cash bail is if they paid the full bail amount and the defendant lived up to all the obligations of their release. Even then however, the refund will not be forthcoming until the case has worked its way through the legal system to resolution. And here is the kicker: if the defendant is found guilty the court keeps the bail money as a way to offset the cost of staging an expensive jury trial. So before you put up $50,000 or $100,000 in cash bail for someone you need to be reasonably certain of their innocence.

If you have enlisted the services of a bail bonding agent the 10% deposit you paid is not refunded under any circumstances. However, if the case is thrown out or the defendant is found not guilty any lien upon your house or claims being held by the bail bonds agent against any other property, bonds, stocks or other valuables you used as collateral will be released. Again, however, should the defendant be found guilty the property will be seized and liquidated in order to cover court costs.

Keep in Mind

There will be no refund of any kind or release of property until a not guilty verdict has been reached or the charges are dropped by the court. There is no way around this. Also, if the person who put up the cash or property to secure bail moved during the course of the proceedings and they did not notify the court any refund check may get lost in the mail. In addition, the government being what it is, it’s possible your refund or property release could simply get lost in the bureaucratic maze. Therefore, if the case has reached an agreeable outcome and you have not heard anything about your refund after 4-6 weeks you should contact the court and find out what’s taking so long.

The Bottom Line

Bailing out someone who has been arrested and charged with a crime in Adams County, Broomfield County, Weld County or Denver is a process fraught with uncertainty. Your safest bet is to work with a bail bonding agent. Call RR Bail Bonds at (720) 988-8304 to learn more.