What is a Surety Bond For Jail – How Does it Work?

If you ever happen to be in a situation where you might need a bail bondsman, it’s important to have an understanding of how bail bonds work. At some point, you will most likely come across the terms surety bond and cash bond. Both are valid options to post bail to release an individual from jail.

However, it’s good to have a solid understanding of the two, their differences and similarities, and which one might be a better option for the situation you are in.

What is Surety Bond?

A surety bond is a legal promise to be held liable for debt, default, or failure to complete a contract. It is meant to serve as insurance in case someone fails to complete their end of the obligation.

what is a surety bond
what is a surety bond

In a surety bond, an “obligee” is the individual who searches for a contractor (principal) or debtor to fulfill their obligation. The contractor or debtor will in turn purchase a surety bond from a surety provider.

What is a Surety Bond For Jail?

A surety bond for jail is a loan that you receive from a bail bondsman to post bail. A bail bondsman meets with you and posts bail on your behalf. However, for a bail bondsman to post bail, you need to pay him a “non-refundable premium”. The premium amount is usually 10% to 15% of the bail amount.

The bail bondsman then contacts a surety provider and borrowers the necessary cash to post bail on your behalf. The surety bond acts as a guarantee that you will show up for your scheduled court hearing after you get released from jail.

Surety Bond For Jail Example

For example, let’s assume that you need to post $10,000 in order to be released from jail. A bail bondsman requires you to put down a 10% premium in order for him to post bail. In this case you would pay the bail bondsman $1,000 dollars in order for him to put up the full $10,000 required to get you out of jail.

Recommended Reading: What is an Indemnity Bond?

Surety Bond vs Cash Bond

surety bond vs cash bond
surety bond vs cash bond

A surety bond and a cash bond are different, but they accomplish the same thing. They both act as a way to get you out of jail. The most straightforward way to bail someone out of jail is by posting cash bail.

When you post a cash bail the amount is held by the court as a guarantee of payment until you show up for your schedule court date. Once you show up for court, the money you paid to post bail will be returned to you. If you fail to show up for court, they will keep your funds and issue a warrant for your arrest.

If you don’t have enough cash to post bail, the next best option is to use a bail bondsman. The bail bondsman will use a surety bond to post your full bail amount.

Who Pays for The Surety Bond or Cash Bond?

With a surety bond, a family member or the person arrested can pay the premium amount to the bail bondsman who will purchase a surety bond to post bail. In this scenario, the cash you put up for the premium is non-refundable. If you show up to court, the court will return the money you posted for bail.

With a cash bond, the person in jail or their family member can post the bail amount. However, if you fail to show up for court you will forfeit the bail amount and the court will keep it.

Risk of Surety Bonds and Cash Bonds

Both surety bonds and cash bonds carry their own levels of risk. The main risk associated with both of these bonds is if the individual who gets bailed out fails to show up to their scheduled court date. In the case of a surety bond, the risk is shared between the individual who paid the non-refundable premium and the surety provider.

If it was a cash bond that the risk rests on the individual who paid them to post bail. If someone fails to show up to court after a cash bond was paid, the person who paid it stands to lose the full amount.


Most people underestimate how common it is of people to fail to show up for court. So, if you’re ever in a situation in which a family member or friend asks you to post bail for them, carefully consider the risks.


Do Surety Bonds Impact Your Credit Score?

Credit pulls for surety bonds are considered  “soft pulls” and can have a very minor effect on your credit score. Usually, if your credit score falls it will be mostly 10 to 20 points.