People who pay bail to get themselves or others out of jail typically want to know if and when they'll get their money back. Depending on how you paid and a few other factors, you might get a refund a few weeks after the case ends or not at all. Here's what you need to know about bail refunds so you can plan accordingly.
Paid Directly to the Court
The only time you're eligible for a refund is when you pay bail directly to the court. The money acts as a type of collateral that serves to incentivize defendants into showing up for their scheduled court dates. If they fail to appear as required, the court will penalize them by confiscating the money and putting them back in jail.
However, if the defendant attends all their trial dates, bail will be refunded back to the person who paid it. How long it takes varies from state to state, but courts usually mail out checks after the defendant's last trial date. In some cases, you're required to submit a formal request for the money before the court will send it.
Before you take up a vigil by the mailbox, though, it's important to note the refund countdown timer doesn't start until the case ends, and a criminal case may take months or years to conclude. The bail money will sit on the court books that entire time and will only be released when the judge or jury issues a verdict or the defendant pleads out.
Thus, when you pay cash bail, you need to consider whether you can be without that money for a long period of time. If you can't then you should probably use a bail bond service instead.
Paid Through a Bail Bond Company
In the cash bail system, bail bond companies act as guarantors. Instead of cash, they'll issue a bond—a type of insurance—to the court essentially saying they take financial responsibility for the defendant. If the defendant doesn't show up for their trial dates, the company will honor the policy and pay the bail when it is officially forfeited by the court.
These companies charge a fee for this service, which is around 10 to 20 percent of the bail amount. This benefits defendants because they get out of jail at a fraction of the cost, and the bail company assumes all the risk. However, the fee is non-refundable, so you won't get your money back for any reason. Additionally, if the bail company does end up paying the bond, you will be responsible for paying them back.
Using a bail bond service protects you in other ways. Connect with a bail bonds services company for more information about what they offer and assistance with getting someone released from jail.
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