Frequently Asked Questions
Cash-Only Bail Bonds™

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Index of Questions

Cash Bonds

Bail Bond Forfeiture

Return of Bail Bond Money

Supreme Court FAQs


Cash Bonds:

What is a Cash Bail Bond?

A cash bail bond, typically referred to as “cash only bail bond”, is a Court-ordered financial guarantee requiring the full amount of the bail to be paid in cash.  This is in contrast to the more commonly known “Surety Bond” which may be purchased from a licensed bail bond agent for 10-15% of the bond amount.  Cash bonds are assigned by the Court for a variety of reasons, including: failure to pay fines, failure to appear for a scheduled hearing, out-of-jurisdictional warrants and for defendants that are considered high risk where the chance of a their failure to appear in court is great.

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Why Does the Court order Cash Bail Bonds?

Cash bonds are set by the court for a variety of reasons, including the most common causes; failure to pay a fine on a prior case, arrest on an out-of-jurisdictional warrant, and failure to appear before the court on a scheduled appearance.  In these cases, the court orders a cash-only bond in an attempt to secure a cash fine or ensure the appearance of a defendant it may consider to be a flight risk.

If the defendant or his family posts the bond, the court may opt to retain the cash as payment toward fines and court costs; for this reason, having an authorized third-party post your cash gives you a better chance of getting your money returned.

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Cash Bail Bond Procedure

Cash bonds may be posted at the Court during regular hours or at the jail, after hours.  Cash bonds posted at the jail, must be paid with the exact dollar amount; the jail will not make change.  If a cash bond is posted at the jail, it may take as long as two weeks before the Court receives the cash.  It is for this reason that the Defendant should carry their bond receipt to Court and inform the Judge that bail was posted on their behalf.  I have seen cases where the Court had not received the cash in time for the hearing and would attempt to arrest the defendant because there was no evidence of a bond being posted.

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Where does cash go after the bond is posted?

Cash is retained with the Court until the Defendant’s case is disposed and/or the bond is exonerated.  The Court will refund the bond posted within 2-6 weeks after exoneration I always recommend to my clients that they ask the judge to exonerate the bond each time they attend a hearing. The Court is forced to make a minute entry and address the bond issue when it is discussed.  Frequently, bond exoneration is not mentioned by the defendant and days or weeks may pass before the Court Clerk asks the Judge what he wants to do with the bond.

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**The most common type of questions I receive from clients and people coming to my website are questions concerning return of funds, return of collateral and bond forfeiture. The following questions are taken directly from those inquiries.

Bail Bond Forfeiture:

Can I get my money back on a Failure to Appear?

A Failure to appear (FTA) is a charge issued by the Court when the Defendant fails to appear to a scheduled Court hearing.  When the Defendant Fails to Appear, the Court will schedule a Forfeiture Hearing and issue a warrant for the Defendant’s arrest.  Within 10 days of the Defendant’s no show, the Court sends a summons to the Defendant, Bond Poster (Bail Bondsman) and/or Surety, notifying them of an Order to Show Cause hearing for Bond Forfeiture.  If the Defendant cannot be located before the Forfeiture Hearing the bond will be forfeited.

If the Defendant’s non-appearance was a result of a misunderstanding or unavoidable circumstance, the Defendant may be able to reschedule his/her missed hearing by contacting the Court and explaining their circumstance.  If the Court is willing to reschedule, then chances are good the bond forfeiture will be cancelled at the next hearing.

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What happens if I don’t pay a bondsman?

Most bondsmen require the payment of premium and the receipt of collateral prior to posting any bond; however, some bondsmen will take payments on premium or even post a bond before receiving collateral. This type of practice leads the bondsman exposed to the risk of not getting paid.  The Bail Bond Agreement forms a contractual relationship between all parties.  Depending on the agreement signed with your bondsman, nonpayment of premium/fees, or not fulfilling your collateral requirement may result in the re-arrest of the Defendant and/or a potential civil action against the indemnitor/Defendant.

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Can a poster be arrested if the defendant Fails to Appear?

A poster cannot be arrested if the defendant does not show to his hearing.  Although the Indemnitor/poster is responsible for ensuring that the Defendant shows for each and every one of his hearings, his responsibility is only a financial one.  The Indemnitor/poster may lose cash or collateral when the Court forfeits a bond, but the Indemnitor/poster is not subject to arrest if the Defendant fails to appear.

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Return of Bail Bond Money:

Can I get my money back from posting a cash-only bail bond?

Failures to Pay and Failures to Comply cases:  Although, many Arizona Courts view bonds posted in those cases as appearance bonds and exonerate them after case disposition, other Courts view cash-only bonds as Purge Bonds and use the money posted to satisfy fines.  Bonds posted by professional bondsmen are less likely to be attached by the court to pay fines.  Bonds posted by the Defendant, or Defendant’s family and friends, are prime targets for conversion by the Court. If you post your own bond, read what you sign.  If you are required to sign your cash over to the defendant, say goodbye to your money.

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When does my bond money come back?

If you posted your cash on a bail bond either by yourself or through an agent, any cash due you will be returned after bond’s exoneration.  The Court will issue a check in 2-6 weeks after exoneration; If you used us to post your cash, we will mail your bond refund within 24-hrs of its receipt from the Court.

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What happens when the court exonerates a bond?

When the Court exonerates a bond, it releases the bond poster of his financial responsibility of making sure the Defendant appears to his Court hearings.  If a Surety Bond was posted, the bond is returned to the Surety company.  If cash was posted, then cash will be returned to the one who posted it.  Be aware, that there are several instances where the Court may want to hold on to the cash.  If you plan to post cash yourself, be sure to ask the Court what their policy is for refunding the bond.  If you use a bondsman, be sure to use one who is familiar with posting cash bonds and who will stay on top of the Court – fighting for a full cash refund.

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After a Bail Bond has been posted can the poster or indemnitor change his mind?

Bonds submitted to the Court or jail become the immediate property of the Court and cannot be returned without the Court ordering them exonerated.  Once the bond is posted, the Defendant will be released to the custody of the Bondsman.  If the Indemnitor, or co-signer, no longer wants to be responsible for the bond, he may request the bail bond company to arrest the Defendant and surrender the bond back to the court.  Arresting the Defendant and surrendering the bond is not without cost; the bondsman will charge for the arrest, bounty hunting fees, and for any Motions to Exonerate that may be required by the court.  The expense associated with the arrest and surrender can be equal to, or greater than, the purchase price of the original bond; sometimes the cost is well worth it.  Defendant’s that continue to break the law, or who become a flight risk, jeopardize the bond being forfeited in whole by the court; putting the Defendant back in jail under these circumstances is sound judgment.  Bear in mind bond exoneration is at the discretion of the court.

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Arizona Supreme Court FAQs:

The following FAQs were extracted from an Arizona Supreme Court pamphlet, “Posting an Appearance Bond Information About Your Rights and Responsibilities”.

What is an Appearance Bond?

An appearance bond, also known as a bail bond (bond) allows a person (the defendant) who is in custody (jail) to be released pending further court appearances. The purpose of the appearance bond is to guarantee the arrested person’s appearance at a time and place specified by the court. The amount of the bail bond varies with the seriousness of the charge and is set by the court.

Is it always necessary to post a bond?

No. Under certain conditions, the court will release a defendant without bond. The court may accept the defendant’s promise to appear at a time and place specified by the court. This is known as being released “Own Recognizance.” A defendant may also be released upon another person’s (designated by the court) promise to ensure the defendant’s appearance as required by the court. This is called a “Third Party Release.”

What will the court accept as bond?

The court will accept cash for the full dollar amount of the bond. Most courts will accept cash, certified money orders, or cashier checks; however, not all courts accept personal checks, business checks, or credit cards. Contact the court or jail for detailed information. Courts also accept paper bonds posted by bail bond agencies.

Who can post bond?

Anyone can post a cash bond on behalf of the defendant. Bail bond companies post paper bonds. Posting a bond makes the bond poster responsible for the full amount of the bond should the defendant fail to appear or violate any other condition of release ordered by the court.

What happens if the defendant fails to appear as ordered?

The court will schedule a bond forfeiturehearing and all parties involved will be notified of the date and time. Depending on the outcome of the hearing, the court: A. May order the bond forfeited; B. May also order a warrant for the defendant’s arrest; C. May allow the defendant another chance to appear.

If a bond is forfeited, can the person who posted the bond get their money back?

No. Once the judge orders the bond forfeited, it becomes the property of the city, town, county, or state and will not be refunded.

What happens to collateral if the court orders the bond forfeited?

The court will order the cash value of the bond paid by the bail bond company. Property given as collateral can be sold by bonding companies to provide cash for the bond, if necessary. Any contract regarding the collateral and/or cash deposits is between the bail bond company and the person obtaining the bond. The court cannot and will not intervene.

What happens if a defendant appears as ordered?

A. The court may order the bond be returned (exonerated) to the bond poster. Once the judge orders exoneration, the court prepares to refund a cash bond to the bond poster or provides written clearance to be given to a bail bond company. Once clearance is provided, the bail bond company initiates the release of collateral; or,

B. If the defendant posted the bond, the court may order that the bond be converted to pay fines, fees, surcharges, or restitution on the case at hand and/or other cases involving the defendant. The court does not need the defendant’s consent to order the conversion; or,

C. The court may order the bond be converted to fines, fees, surcharges, or restitution on the case at hand and/or other cases the defendant may have IF the person who posted the bond, not the defendant, agrees to the bond conversion; or,

D. The court may order the bond remain in effect until the defendant’s next appearance. After the bond has been released, the bonding company should return title to the collateral used to secure the bond. You may need to supply the bonding company with a copy of the court order releasing the bond.

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Bail Bond Definitions:

Bond Poster – Person who posts an appearance bond

Collateral – Property or titles given by a person to a bail bond agent who then posts the bond.

Convert – Use of the bond money to pay what the defendant was ordered by the court to pay. The order could include victim restitution, fines and surcharges, attorney fees, or jail fees.

Defendant – Person charged with a criminal act.

Exonerate – Return of bond money to the bond poster.

Forfeit – Bond money is turned over to the city, county or state by the judge’s order.

Paper bond – The paper given to the court by the bail bond agent showing that collateral was given.


Warning….Be careful!!!

The form used when bond is posted may have several options that allow the court to use the money to “Pay for the monetary obligations owed on this case and other cases this defendant may have in this court.” Please read the form carefully and only mark those statements that you agree with; you cannot change your mind later.