How Does Bail Work?

Basics about Bail & Bonds In NJ

NJ Bail Reform

What is bail?

Bail or bond (in this case, bail and bond mean the same thing) is an amount of money in cash, property, or surety bond for the purpose of making sure that a person attends all required court appearances.  

Bond allows an arrested person (defendant) to be released from jail until his or her case is completed.

Who can post bond?

Any person can post his or her own bond.  If the defendant can’t afford to bond himself or herself out of jail, any other person age 18 or older can post the bond

If I bond someone out of jail,
when will I get my money back?

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It could take months, even years.

If you post a cash bond, you might get some or all of your cash bond back, but it won’t be until the case is finished and the necessary paperwork has been processed.  

Under the law, the Court can use the cash bond to pay any fine or costs which might be assessed the defendant. 

If you post a surety bond, you will not get the surety bondsman’s fee or the Sheriff’s fee back.

What is a cash bond?

A cash bond is the full amount of the bond required, paid in cash, to release a defendant from jail.

How much does a cash bond cost?

To be released on cash bail, a person must post with the court the total amount of the bail, in cash, to secure his/her return to court on an appointed date, and thereafter until the case is finished.

Full cash bonds are an incentive for defendants to appear at trial. 

If the defendant appears for his/her court appearances, the cash will be returned to you within 60-90 days. 

However, if he/she fails to appear, the cash bond is forfeited to the court! NOTE: Some courts will keep a small fee (usually 3%) and can also deduct any fines from the cash bond you put up.

How do I post a cash bond?

For instructions on how to post a cash bond, call your local Sheriff’s Office. 

Very Important Note:  

You do not need to pay a bail bond agent to post a cash bond because you or another person can post a cash bond. 

Can I change my mind
after I post a cash bond for someone?

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You may have the defendant turn himself or herself in to jail any time before the defendant misses a court date. 

If the defendant is returned to the jail, you will need to file the required paperwork with the court.

It will take about two weeks for the money to be mailed to you.

If I post a cash bond, will I get my money back?

Maybe.

If the defendant attends all court appearances and either pleads guilty or is found guilty, a cash bond can be used to pay fines and costs:

If you’re using your money to post a cash bond for the defendant, please tell the clerk or jailer your name and address.  

If you are using the defendant’s own money to post the cash bond, tell the clerk or jailer that the bond money should be receipted in the defendant’s name. The bond receipt should be made for the person whose money is being used for the cash bond.

If there is any money left, it will be returned to the person whose name is on the bond receipt.

If the defendant attends all court appearances and the charges are dismissed or dropped, the person whose name is on the cash bond receipt will receive the refund of the cash bond.

It takes about two weeks for the refund to be mailed to the person who posted the cash bond.

What happens if the defendant misses court?

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The judge will issue a warrant for the defendant’s arrest and the bond will be forfeited (defaulted).

This is a complicated process and it is probably in your best interest to hire an attorney.

There are many cases on this issue as you can see here:

A party seeking to set aside or remit a forfeiture bears the burden of proving that “it would be inequitable to insist upon forfeiture and that forfeiture is not required in the public interest.” State v. Childs, 208 N.J. Super 61, 64 (App. Div.), certif. Denied 104 N.J. 430 (1986); State v. Mercado, 329 N.J. Super 265, 269-270 (App. Div. 2000).

The court may direct that a forfeiture be set aside if its enforcement is not required in the interests of justice. R. 3:26-6(b). 

Remission, in whole or in part, may be ordered even after the entry of a judgment of default in the interest of justice. R. 3:26-6(c). The decision to remit bail, as well as the amount of bail to remit, are matters within the sound discretion of the trial judge to be exercised in the public interest. State v. Peace, 63 N.J. 127, 129 (1973); State v. Mercado, 329 N.J. Super. at 270; State v. de la Hoya, 359 N.J. Super. 194, 198 (App. Div. 2003); State v. Harmon, 361 N.J. Super 250, 254 (App. Div. 2003). 

The exercise of that discretion must be consistent with the policy concerns expressed in State v. de la Hoya, 359 N.J. Super. At  198 and informed by the standards articulated in State v. Hyers, 122 N.J. Super. 177, 180 (App. Div. 1973).

What is a bail bondsman?

Bondsman, bonds person, bail agent, and bond agent are all names used for a person who is licensed by the New Jersey State Department of Banking and Insurance (NJDOBI) to sell surety bonds and is authorized to conduct business in the State of New Jersey.  He or she is an agent for an insurance company that sells surety bonds.

What is a surety bond?

A surety bond is an agreement made between a person and a bondsman.  

The bondsman agrees to post the necessary bond so the defendant can be released from jail.

This agreement is backed by an insurance company contract signed by the person and the bondsman on behalf of the insurance company.  

There has to be enough cash or collateral to cover the full amount of the bond in case the defendant misses his or her court date. 

Only a person who has been licensed by the State Department of Insurance may post a surety bond.

Why would I hire a bondsman?

If you don’t have the cash to cover the full bond amount and the Sheriff’s fee, you may wish to hire a bondsman to bond yourself or someone else out of jail.

Also, as mentioned above, sometimes the Court keeps a cash bond.  

If you are bonding someone out of jail and you don’t want to take the chance that all or part of your cash will be used to pay the defendant’s court fines, fees and restitution, you might want to hire a bail bondsman.

How do I post a surety bond?
What are the fees?

The fees are constantly changing.

Call any one of the bail bondsmen listed on the internet in your local area. 

Check their reviews to make sure you’re dealing with a responsive & honest company. 

The defendant and a cosigner will be required to sign the bond agent’s contract.

If I Co-Sign the Bond, what will I have to do?

If the defendant misses a court date, you may be expected to help the bondsman find the defendant, to pay the bondsman’s expenses for finding the defendant, and to pay the full amount of the bond if the defendant cannot be found.

If I go through a bond agent to post a surety bond,
will I get my money and collateral back?

You will not get the surety bond fee or the Sheriff’s fee back.  

Whether you get the rest of your money or your collateral back depends on what you and your bondsman agreed to in the contract.  

Every contract is different.

If your gut tells you not to sign the contract, then do not sign.

You can always ask an attorney to review the contract before you get involved.

These decisions should never be rushed.

If a bond company is pressuring you, this is a sign to shop around.

Immigration bonds are very risky. Think twice before posting an immigration bond.

BEFORE SIGNING ANY CONTRACTS OR PROMISSORY NOTES, MAKE SURE YOU READ THROUGH THEM CAREFULLY.  

BE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND THEM.  

ALWAYS GET COPIES OF ALL DOCUMENTS YOU SIGN AT THE TIME YOU SIGN THEM.

How do I post a property bond?

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This is an extremely important decision.

Before you put your home on the line, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.

The last thing you want to do if you have a loved one incarcerated is to lose your home.

What if I can’t afford to lose the money
I used to bond someone out of jail?

Absolutely Never bond someone out of jail if you cannot afford to lose that money or if you can’t afford to wait for several months to get it back. 

Remember, even if the defendant makes all court appearances, the Court can use the cash bond to pay fines and fees. 

In the world of bonding people out of jail, there are no guarantees.

Note: The Sheriff’s fee can change without notice.

This information is to provide you with basic information only.

Every case is different and some are very complicated.

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