What Is a Cash-Only Bond?

In certain cases, the court dictates that the only type of bond accepted for an individual's bail is called a cash-only bond

In a cash-only bond, the defendant must pay the entire amount of bail in cash. This differs from a surety bond, in which a bail bond agency can handle the total bail amount after the defendant pays a certain amount (usually 10-15%) of the cost to the agency. For cash-only bonds, the defendant will only be released from custody after the full amount is paid. You can typically pay with actual cash or using a secure payment type, such as a debit or credit card. Most jurisdictions will only accept payment of the exact amount, and if you pay in cash, change will not be issued.

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Why Are Cash-only Bonds Ordered?

A cash-only bond is a stricter type of bond that is ordered in certain cases, for example, if a judge considers the defendant to be at least a moderate flight risk. This type of bond may also result from a defendant's prior actions, such as failing to pay fines in previous cases or failing to appear before the court during a scheduled appearance. In these cases, a cash-only bond ensures that the court will receive payment if the defendant fails to appear for further court proceedings.

Who Can Post a Cash-only Bond?

Most courts allow the defendant, a family member, or a third-party (such as an acquaintance or a bail bondsman who can deal in cash bonds) to post the cash-only bond money. State laws usually allow a judge to apply the amount paid in the cash bond toward any penalties or fines that are included in the defendant's sentencing. This means that if the defendant does eventually get convicted of the crime with which he or she is charged, the bond money may not be returned in full. Additionally, if the defendant fails to appear at any court appearances, the entire amount will be forfeited.

How to Post a Cash-only Bond

States and even some county courts may have different procedures for posting a cash-only bond; however, it's normally as simple as paying the bond at the jail cashier's window. A bond receipt will be issued; if you've used a third-party to pay the bond using your own money, make sure that the receipt is issued in your name. The person listed on the receipt will receive the refund if there is one, so it's very important to have the correct name reflected on the receipt.

What Happens Next?

As with any type of bond, after you're released from jail, you must adhere to any conditions that the bail specifies, as well as appear in all scheduled court proceedings. Failure to comply with any bail conditions, or failing to appear in court, can result in the bond being forfeited and an arrest warrant being issued. If a judge orders forfeiture of the bond, the bond becomes the property of the appropriate jurisdiction (city, county, or state), and it will not be refunded.

When you post a cash-only bond, the court holds the money in a trust account until the case is completed. If you're found not guilty, the bond will be exonerated and the money is returned. If you're found guilty, the bond will still be exonerated, but the court may keep some or all of the money.

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