A bail bond is the written obligation of a defendant to appear in court as required, in case s/he loses his/her bond or collateral[i]. A bond provides substantially that the defendant and the surety are jointly and severally bound to pay the state a sum of money if the defendant fails to make his/her appearance before the court and to answer to the charges[ii].
Pursuant to federal law, if a judicial officer determines that the release of a person will not reasonably assure the appearance of that person as required or will endanger the safety of any other person or the community, such judicial officer orders the pretrial release of the person by executing a bail bond with solvent sureties[iii].
The bond in a criminal action is an agreement between the court and the accused and his/her surety[iv]. Thus, general contract principles govern bail bonds[v].
The requirement of bail bonds, secured by collateral or the undertaking of a surety, is a vital part of the core commitment to avoid, whenever possible, the pretrial detention of accused persons[vi].
The purpose of an appearance bond is to secure a trial, its object being to combine the administration of justice with the convenience of a person accused, but not proven, to be guilty.
The surety on a bail bond may, at his/her discretion, apprehend and surrender the principal[vii]. If the accused does not appear, the bail may be forfeited as an incentive to the surety on the bail bond to pursue the accused and return him/her to the jurisdiction of the court[viii].
If the impossibility of performance on a bail bond is created by the obligor or a stranger, the rights of the obligee will not be affected[ix].
[i] Prof’l Bail Bonds, Inc. v. State, 185 Md. App. 226 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2009).
[iii] 18 USCS § 3142.
[iv] Bruno v. Commissioner, 71 T.C. 191 (T.C. 1978).
[v] United States v. Noriega-Sarabia, 116 F.3d 417 (9th Cir. Cal. 1997).
[vi] Prof’l Bail Bonds, Inc. v. State, 185 Md. App. 226 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2009).
[ix] Taylor v. Taintor, 83 U.S. 366 (U.S. 1873).