If you are physically arrested, your charge may carry a bond amount. That bond amount if the amount of money that must be paid in order to get released from jail. In Florida, the primary purpose of a bail bond is to ensure the presence of the defendant in court.
Other than an ROR (release on recognizance) or Pretrial Services (no monetary bond but reporting and monitoring requirements) or House Arrest (GPS monitoring and restrictions on where you can and can't go), most accused people will find themselves with a simple monetary bond.
The monetary bond can be paid in one of two ways.
The first way is a cash bond, meaning that you can pay the amount of the bond out of your own pocket, or a friend or relative can pay the full amount with cash, a check, or a debit or credit card. You will be charged the full amount of the bond, and once the case is closed, the bond will be refunded to the depositor minus any court costs that have been assessed.
If the accused fails to appear in court or otherwise violates the terms and conditions of release (such as getting arrested on a new charge), the depositor risks losing their money.
However, if the bond is for a relatively small amount, like $500, and you are arrested with your wallet on your person, you may be able to post your own bond and get released more quickly than having to wait for a bail bond to get processed.
Now a bail bond is a better option for high bonds. They are not free - you must pay the bondsman a 10% premium. So if the bond is $5,000, you must pay the bondsman a $500 fee and they will write the bond for the full amount. The bondsman assumes the risk in exchange for the fee.
A bondsman may require that the deposit put up collateral for the bond, to protect the bondsman against risk. For instance, the bondsman may require property - such as your home - be signed over to the bondsman in the event the accused violates the bond or fails to appear and the bond is estreated by the court.
The benefit to a bondsman is that you don't have to come up with an enormous sum of money to get your loved one out of jail. Not many people just happen to have a spare $10,000 laying around. But coming up with a thousand dollars is much easier. So bail bonds are intended to make getting out of jail affordable.
But on the other hand, if you have the cash and you don't mind it sitting with the court until your case is closed, you are free to post a cash bond and save the 10% premium. However, court costs are statutory (required by law) and if you plead guilty, your bond money will be returned to you but only after court costs have been taken out.
If you have a loved one in custody in Miami-Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach, contact me to discuss your best and most efficient bond options.