What Happens to Bail Money if Charges are Dropped?
If You Paid Directly to the Court
When you’re awaiting trial, the judge may rule that you are civically responsible enough to be released on your own recognizance (OR). If not, they’ll require you to post bail money, to make sure you show up for your trial. They try to set bail amounts higher than a given defendant can afford to lose. If you have the cash on hand to post bail, the money will be returned to you after your trial, or if the charges are dropped.
But don’t expect to your money soon. It can take up to six weeks for a bail refund to work its way through the red tape of government, and in some cases, bureaucratic stumbling blocks can interrupt the process, which means you may have to re-apply and wait even longer.
If You Used a Bondsman, What Happens to Bond Money if Charges are Dropped?
In actual practice, a lot of defendants lack the cash-on-hand to pay the full bail amount. Enter the bail bondsman, who posts bond on your behalf and charges a fee of ten percent of the amount of the bond. If bail is set at $1,000, a bondsman can put up the money to get you out of jail. After your trial, the court returns $1,000 to the bail bond company, whom you pay $100 for the use of their money. This allows you to coordinate personal resources in preparation for your trial without laying out a huge sum of money.
If the charges are dropped, the bond agent has nevertheless provided a financial service and is entitled to keep the 10 percent fee.