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What is the Difference Between Bail and Surety Bonds?

What is the difference between bail and surety bonds? The answer is about how many parties are involved.

Posted 3 years ago by Jim Titus

The word “surety” in relation to bail can be rather confusing. In order to clarify the difference between bail and surety bonds, the first step is to define each of the three words.

What is bail?

The word “bail” refers to the orders a judge gives that enable defendants to get out of jail pending their court dates. For all intents and purposes, it’s how much someone would have to pay to get out of jail.

What is a bond?

A bond is a financial transaction or other type of agreement, loosely translated as a “promise” to pay something back. Different kinds of bonds are used for multiple purposes, such as an agreement between a financial institution and a school district wishing to build a new school.

What is a bail bond?

In this case, if you combine the words “bail” and “bond,” a bail bond can be defined as a promise to follow a judge’s orders. A bail bond ensures that a defendant will attend hearings, and if not, the bail amount will be forfeited to the court. If the defendant does follow all the conditions, the money will be returned.

What is the difference between bail and surety bonds?

Sometimes, defendants or their friends can pay bail in full, so essentially only two parties are involved: the court and the defendant. In many cases, however, the costs are too steep for the average person to afford. That’s where the word “surety” comes in.

Rather than only two parties, a surety bond involves three: the defendant or someone acting on behalf of the defendant, the court, and a bail bond agent.

A surety bond, therefore, is a three-way agreement to guarantee compliance and/or payment of the bail conditions. As noted above, if the defendant attends all hearings, the bail money will be returned, but fees paid to the bonds company will not.

Why are bail bonds required to begin with?

This is a question many are asking, but the truth is that bail bonds serve several purposes, including:

  1. Avoiding the illegal act of cruel and unusual punishment (i.e. forcing a possibly innocent person to stay in jail for several months while waiting for the case to be resolved)
  2. Freeing space in the local jails
  3. Allowing defendants to continue with their lives and jobs while the case is pending
  4. Helping to keep a defendant from running after he or she is released pending court hearings, as the defendant will realize that the cost of running may be insurmountable for him or her and the individual who paid.

If you need bail bonds in Wayne County, Oakland County, or Macomb County, our experienced and licensed bail bond agents are here to help. We can help families throughout Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana, and we aim to do so as quickly as possible. We also place a focus on providing confidential, friendly, and compassionate services. This is a challenging time for you and your loved one, so we are here to help make the first steps easier for you.

Call us at 313-244-0669 or email us at for more information about the difference between bail and surety bonds or to begin the process of getting your loved one out of jail.


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