Understanding Cash Bail Bonds
A judge can choose to require a cash bail, or cash-only bail if the defendant in question is deemed a flight risk, has unpaid fines, or has failed to appear for a previously scheduled court appointment. If this is the case, the court will only accept cash – and in many cases only the exact amount – to release the defendant on bail.
Even though anyone can post a cash bail for a defendant, the legal system sees cash bail as providing a greater incentive for the defendant to comply with their legal requirements. If the defendant does not comply, the court keeps the bail money. Even if all stipulations are met, the court might still choose to keep portions of the cash bail to pay off legal fees or any outstanding fines that the defendant might have neglected.
Certain bail bondsmen do deal in cash bail bonds. While it is generally good practice for the defendant, or a friend or relative, to pay the full bail amount without going through a bondsman because of the 10% non-refundable fee that a bondsman charges, in a cash-only bail case it might be wise to employ a bondsman anyway. This is because judges are far less likely to take money from a cash bail bond posted by a bondsman to pay for fees and expenses, than a cash bail posted by the defendant themselves.
Lets say, for the sake of easy math, your cash-only bail is set at $500 and you have $200 worth of unpaid fines. In this case, even if you can afford the $500 out-of-pocket, it is much more affordable to pay a bail bondsman $50 for their 10% fee, than to have the judge take $200 out of your bail money to cover the fines.
If a defendant does not comply with court orders, not only is their cash bail forfeited, but the judge will put out a warrant for their arrest.