The bail system is a cornerstone piece of the American justice system. It allows those who receive bail to stay out of jail while awaiting trial, which helps ensure citizens don’t spend any more time behind bars than is absolutely necessary.
Most people who receive bail rely on the bail bond system to secure it. After all, the average American can’t cover a $1,000 emergency, much less come up with tens of thousands in cash with little notice
But do you get bond money back? It’s an important question. Here’s what you need to know.
How Bail Works
In North Carolina, the judicial system tries to keep people who haven’t been convicted of a crime out of jail. As a result, they use a bail system to ensure you turn up for court. In the best-case scenario, the judge releases you on your own recognizance, which means you agree to return to court and you don’t need to pay bail.
In cases where there are reservations about recognizance, the judge may assign bail or a bond.
When a judge assigns you bail, they do so with certain conditions. The first is that you pay the money to the court. However, they may also attach requirements like:
- Attending all your hearings
- Avoiding further crimes
- Staying in a certain area
- Keeping away from certain persons
If you pay the bond and you meet all the judge’s requirements, then the judge will order your bail as refundable. You then receive the money back — minus any fees set by the court.
If you don’t meet the judge’s requirements, the court can keep your bail. In these cases, you lose all the money you paid, and you go back to jail to await trial.
What If I Pay Using a Bond?
Few people can afford to pay bail in cash because the figure is often just too high. If you can’t afford bail, you can use a bail bond in North Carolina. Surety bonds make up for the cash you can’t pay.
To get a bond, you need to provide your personal information and information about your case. The bond provider then decides whether or not you are likely to skip out on the judge’s requirements.
If the bondsman agrees to lend you the money, they ask for a deposit. In most cases, the deposit is up to 15 percent of the total bail amount. In other cases, they may lend you the deposit and require you to make payments while your case continues. Some bond agents also allow you to use property as collateral, as long as the value meets the required premium.
The bondsman then posts the bail on your behalf and under the conditions set by the judge.
If you use a bail bond, then you don’t get your money back. However, you didn’t put up the total bond to begin with. When you meet your bail conditions, the court refunds the bond back to the bondsman.
Do You Get Bond Money Back?
If you used a bond, then the bondsman gets the bail back when you show up to court.
The deposit or premium you paid is usually their fee, and you won’t get this sum back even when your case is over regardless of the verdict. They take this fee for assuming the risk of putting up the remaining amount and for managing the defendant, like calling to ensure they make all their court appearances. It also includes the paperwork involved in posting the bond and receiving a refund from the court system or finance department.
It’s important to remember that unlike cash bail, your bond premium won’t go towards court fees. You still need to pay these yourself, just as you would have if you put up cash bail.
What Happens If Someone Skips Bail?
Bail bonds are cheapest when the person on bond follows the directions set by the court. It can get very complicated if they don’t show up to court or get re-arrested after posting bail, which is also known as skipping bail.
If you lose bail, then the court keeps the money, and the person charged — and their co-signer if they have one — then owes the bail bondsman the remaining balance.
There may also be other fees tacked on depending on the context. There may be office and other administrative fees.
Does a Conviction Matter?
No, it doesn’t matter whether or not you get convicted. The bail bond only impacts pre-trial detention, and as long as you complete the terms of the bond itself, then you will get bail back after your trial concludes.
Your Refund Depends on Whether You Pay Bail or Bond
The court system relies on the bail system to make sure people don’t spend more time in detention than they need to — especially prior to conviction.
Whether you get a refund on bail depends on how you pay. If you pay cash bail and meet your obligations, then you get a refund minus court fees, as long as the judge agrees. But do you get bond money back? The answer is no.
Paying a bond premium is the same as paying access for a service. The fee you pay to the bondsman stays with the bondsman to help them cover costs as well as encouraging defendants not to skip bail. When a bondsman posts bail on your behalf, they get the full refund and you might still owe court fees.
Was someone you love arrested and assigned bail? At Kat Bail Bonds, we don’t believe people who haven’t been convicted should stay in jail. Get in touch today to learn how we help people post bail.