Individuals are often detained in jail or in a detention center on criminal charges because they are unable to post a bond. The purpose of the bond is to provide support to a promise made by the defendant to appear in court. By so doing, the defendant is able to obtain a release from confinement until date of trial. To “post a bond” means that an individual pays a bondsman to guarantee the court that the defendant, our client, will appear on the date of trial. If the defendant/client does not appear, the bondsman will have to pay the court the amount of the bond. Since the bondsman doesn’t want to pay the amount of the bond, the bondsman locates our client/ defendant, places the client/defendant in custody, and gets him or her to court or to a lock-up at the jail or detention center.
Bonds can be in different forms, i.e. a property bond, a cash bond, a recognizance bond, a promissory bond, or a premium bond. A “property bond” is one in which our client has, or often the parents of our client have, sufficient equity in a home and that equity is put up as collateral to guarantee that our client will appear in court on the date of trial. If the client does not show up, the client or his parents will have to forfeit the equity that was placed as collateral with the court. A “cash bond” is an amount certain that is placed with the court, such as $2500, and if the client does not show up on trial date, then the cash is forfeited. With a “promissory bond”, the client promises to pay a sum, such as $2500, that he or she will have to pay to the State of Maryland if he or she does not show on the trial date. If our client is released on his/her own recognizance, that means there is no need to post a bond. Then there is the bond for which the defendant/client pays a premium. The amount of the premium is usually 10% of the bail amount ordered by the judge. For example, for a $20,000 “premium bond”, the defendant/client pays a non-refundable premium to the bondsman of $2,000. A client who has paid a bondsman for a premium bond does not get the “premium”, or the cost paid for the bond, back when he/she appears on the date of trial. Other types of bonds may result in no cost to the client. Property bonds and cash bonds are examples of bonds obtained at no cost to the client or to his friend or relative who placed the real property as collateral should our client not appear on the date of trial.
Despite what I have described above concerning the loss of the collateral by the bondsman or the property owner or the person who placed the cash collateral or by whomever agreed to pay his or her equity to the court or cash in the event of the failure to appear on the date of trial, such situations do not always mean the loss of the collateral or the property. There is a mechanism in place which allows the defendant/client to petition the court and in that petition to request that the court consider the circumstances that caused the defendant/client to fail to appear. By petitioning the court, the result may be that the collateral, whether property or cash, is prevented from being forfeited.
For more information, CONTACT US to discuss your need for a bond by calling Fred Antenberg, an attorney who practices criminal law in Howard County, Maryland, and in surrounding counties at 410 730 4404.