Bail/Bond: What is it and how does it work?

The terms bond and bail both mean the amount of money a court requires from the criminal defendant in order to release him/her from jail. These terms are often used interchangeably in most areas of Tennessee. Unless the defendant is charged with a capital crime, every Tennessee criminal defendant is allowed to have a bond/bail set in his/her specific case.

Following are ways bonds can be posted:

  • In full to the court (referred to as a “cash bond”);
  • Through a bonding company (requiring 10% of the bond, plus a processing fee paid to the bondsman);
  • Posting a property bond.

In Tennessee, bonds are posted to promise that the criminal defendant will appear in court on his/her court date(s). At the conclusion of the criminal case, the bond may be refunded if the defendant obeyed the terms of the bond and appeared as required on every court date. The ramifications of missing a court date is that the posted bond funds may not be refunded to the person who posted the bond on the criminal defendant’s behalf. If the bond is posted through a bonding company, the 10% of the bond and the processing fee paid is not refundable.

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