When you’re in trouble with the law and hear the amount that bail is set at by a judge, your first thought is probably “where am I going to get the money to get out of jail?” It’s a legitimate question: most people don’t have $5,000, $10,000, or $50,000 set by the court in order to get out of jail. No doubt that it’s time to investigate how bail bonds work.

For as many types of bail bonds as there are, most people are only familiar with a single type: the surety bond. But as common as that one is, there are actually a few others that it pays to know. Let’s take a look at the four most popular type of ways that people get bail money.

Cash Bond

While everyone has driven by a bail bond service at one time or another, not everyone has been to court. This fact kind of plants the idea in people’s minds: “You need a bail bond agent if you ever get arrested.” And while we hate to admit it, it’s true: you don’t have to use a bail bond service. (The judge would tell you this anyway, so there’s no harm to our business by mentioning it.)

The court really doesn’t care where the money comes from, so long as you get it legally. So if you don’t need to get a surety or property bond with a bond service (more on those below), you can simply pay the cash bond from your own pocket and be released. You’ll be getting all of that money back, minus some administrative costs that the city or county will charge.

Why don’t more people do cash bonds? The first reason is that most people simply don’t have that kind of money sitting around in cash. Second, it can take a long time to get your money back, sometimes months. Even if a person has the cash in hand and can turn it over to the courts, they most likely can’t be without that money for long. For most people, a surety bond makes the most sense. Let’s talk about them next….

Surety Bond

While cash bonds might technically be easiest (for the simple fact that a bail bond agent isn’t used), they’re not the most common. A surety bond is the most common type of bail bond, and it’s the kind that we deal with most here at J & J Bail Bonds.

We’ve talked quite a bit about this most common way to get bail money, but we’ll give a quick rundown. When someone is arrested and doesn’t have the bail money necessary to be released on a cash bond, they will often call a bail bond service. The bondman, also known as a bail bond agent, will put up the full amount of the bail in order to have the accused released from jail. The accused pays a non-refundable fee for the use of these funds and may have to sign agreements with the bail agent agreeing to certain conditions, such as not leaving town or having regular check-ins with an agent. When the accused shows up in court, the bail bond agent (or, more likely, the bond agency as a company) gets his or her money back.

Property Bond

If someone has trouble securing a bond or cannot afford the premium, there are some cases in which another option is a possibility: a property bond. Instead of cash, property is put up (usually a house or car) in lieu of the bond. Houses will have a lien put on them to ensure that the accused shows up for court. The primary difference between a surety bond and a property bond is that the court itself will be the one who puts a lien on the property.

The problems with property bonds are pretty obvious. First, many people are renters and have no substantial property to put up for a property bond. Second, the property has to have substantial value over the cost of the bond itself. Finally, if the accused doesn’t show up in court, the house (or other property) will be considered forfeit. That’s a huge risk to take for the accused or their loved one.

Personal Bond

Like the cash bond, personal bonds don’t involve bail bond agents in any way. Unlike cash bonds, you don’t get to choose because the judge does.

If you are offered a personal bond, consider yourself lucky. This means that bail money is not set and that you are being released until the court date “on your own recognizance.” This means that the judge believes you are not a flight risk or at risk of harming other people. You’ll simply get to leave the courtroom after agreeing to put in writing that you’ll return to court at the appointed times and won’t engage in any illegal activity in the meantime. The only bond in this case is the written agreement. Administrative fees might still be something you have to pay.

Which Bond Is For You?

Of course, we’d all choose the personal bond if offered the chance, but that’s certainly not always going to happen. While a cash bond might be a good idea if you have excess funds, it’s simply not an option for most people. Property bonds can be an extremely dangerous situation, and the equity that most people have in their homes can’t satisfy the court in most cases.

That leaves us which surety bonds, and, as we said, they’re the most common type of bail bond used. And for good reason: they’re easy, the premium is affordable, and it gives people access to money (and freedom) that they otherwise wouldn’t have. If you find yourself in need of a surety bond in the Grand Rapids or Muskegon areas, we’re more than happy to help. Contact us when you need a bail bond agency in Michigan.