Bail Bonds Glossary

bail bonds glossary of terms

After having heard so many terms thrown around we’ve decided to build our own bail bonds glossary of terms. Below you’ll find standard verbiage for the bail bonds industry and some slang words not so much. Please check back to see any new words added.

Bail: A dollar amount set by the Los Angeles County court using a bail schedule. A financial incentive to guarantee that the accused will appear for trial.

Bail Bonds: A written document or contract with the Los Angeles jail and/or court, signed by the “Surety Company” to secure the defendants release from custody; and to guarantee their appearance in court.

Bail Agent: A person who signs the bail bond and acts as the surety.

Bail Bondsman: Another term for “Bail Agent”.

Bail Bondsmen: A term meant to present a number of bail bond agents.

Bond Forfeiture: When the defendant fails to appear (FTA) for court while out on bond, the court declares a “Bond Forfeiture” and orders the full amount of the bond paid, or the defendant returned to custody.

Co-Signor: This is usually a friend or family member but a typically a person that will both personally and financially guarantee the defendants appearance in court to the bail bond company. The guarantee is for all court appearances until the defendant has fulfilled all of their court obligations regardless if found guilty or innocent.

Collateral: Something of value posted with the Bail Agent to secure the bond. This is typically cash or property. All collateral is released once the defendant’s case has been completed, again, regardless of the outcome.

Exoneration: When the Surety Company and the Co-Signer are released from the bail bond. This is typically when the defendant is either found not guilty or is sentenced for the crime(s) committed. The case must be complete, either by sentencing or re-arrest of the defendant on the same case.

Failure To Appear (FTA): When the defendant fails to appear for their court appointed docket as scheduled. Ultimately, when the defendant is found to be FTA, they may receive another charge by the court and need a subsequent bond for that charge of failing to appear.

Indemnitor: A person who guarantees the defendants appearance in court; also known as a Co-signer or Surety.

Premium: In California this amount can be anywhere from 0 – 10% of the full face of the bond amount. To include all bonds. The premium is simply an amount of money that the Bail Agent requires to secure the defendants release. The amount can vary depending on the seriousness of the case and the stability of the accused. Example: If your bail bond is $10,000 then the bail bondsmen will charge you $1000 or 10% of the bond. This saves you 90% of the money you would have to pay the court for a cash bond.

Principal: Also known as the defendant or the accused. The person who was arrested and calling you, often crying, to come bail them out of jail.

Recall: When the Bail Agent re-arrests the defendant due to a violation of court rules or even the bond company’s rules, the Bail Agent is then released from the guarantee of the bond. Once the Bail Agent places the defendant back into custody the bondsman and the co-signor are both released from the bond if all financial obligations have been met. This may not be over as the bondsman may additionally charge the co-signor with fees for capturing the defendant and placing them back in jail.

Risk: This is the amount of liability a Bail Agent may accept. If and when the defendant risk factor changes, the surety may have the option to recall the bond.

Skip: Also known as FTA; a skip is when the defendant does not show for court and subsequently does not make contact with the bail bond agent. Also known as “Absconder”. The hunt is then on to bring the defendant, now a fugitive, back into custody. Ultimately, the co-signor may be charged additional fees for having to track down and bring the fugitive to justice.

Surety: This is the Insurance Company, Bail Agent and/or the Co-Signer on a bond that guarantees the defendants appearance in court until the case has been completed.bail bonds glossary

If you have any terms for the bail bond glossary please let us know by sending us an email using our contact form or even in the comments of this post.