Upon being arrested on filed criminal charges, and until their first court appearance, a defendant will be held in jail. However, a majority of arrest warrants allow for a bond amount and certain bond conditions. If a defendant can post bond, commonly known as bail, they will be released from jail to wait for their court appearance. Bond is a distinctive agreement between the Court, the defendant, and sometimes a third party. It is vital to completely understand what a bond is and encompasses.

Bonds and Posting Bond

A bond is a contract between a defendant and the Court that the defendant will attend all upcoming court appearances. A similar example is a pawn shop agreement, where an individual gets a short-term loan from the pawn shop in exchange for their property. If you fail to pay the loan, you lose the pawned property. Posting bond is very similar. A defendant is promising they will appear at all their future court dates through their bonding agent’s guarantee of payment. The Court retains this money until the case is either resolved or the Court orders the money to be released. Sometimes, the Court can take particular costs from this amount before returning it to the payor, this includes court costs, fines, and/or fees.

A bonding agent is a sanctioned individual or organization that can consent to undertake your potential risk for neglecting to go to court appearances. As opposed to paying the money to the Court, the specialist is contracted and signs a certification to pay a set sum should the individual neglect to show up to court. In lieu of making this installment, the operator can find and bring the individual back to custody in a procedure known as surrendering the bond.

It is possible for a defendant to be release on a “no cost” bond. These bonds are called personal recognizance/PR bonds or they are sometimes called own recognizance/OR bonds. These bonds function just as regular bonds do, but instead of a bonding agent, the defendant is promising to appear at upcoming court appearances in exchange for their release from custody. No “collateral” is put up by the defendant, but rather just their word that they will appear in court. These types of bonds will usually be issued with a “bond amount” that the defendant will have to repay if they miss their court appearance. For instance, an individual could be granted “a $3500 OR bond.” The premise being that the defendant can be released from custody without putting up any collateral but if they fail to appear at their court hearing, they will owe the Court $3500.

Bond Amounts and Conditions

The Eight Amendment allows for bonds to be set at any amount that isn’t considered “excessive.” This gives the judge who is issuing the warrant an extremely wide breadth. In State v. Foy, the Kansas Supreme Court laid out common factors which judges should take into account when setting a bond amount. These factors include: the nature of the crime, number of past convictions, and probability of fleeing the state—commonly called “jumping bail.” A general rule of thumb is, the higher the severity of crime, the higher the bond amount will probably be. Judges also consider factors which may convey that an individual may attempt to flee the state to avoid being prosecuted. These include the resources and desire to flee. An example would be someone who lives and works in Texas, but is caught stealing a car in Kansas; they could be considered likely to “jump bail” by going back to Texas. It should be noted, that bond is not guaranteed. Only in the most extreme instances may a court not set a bond at all without violating the Eight Amendment.

Section 22-2802 outlines conditions of release an individual may be placed on while on bond. These conditions vary immensely, from gps monitoring to substance abuse treatment to house arrest. These conditions will be detailed and must be strictly followed just as attending court hearings must be. Conditions of a bond can also affect the amount the bond is. If a restrictive condition (house arrest) is required, the risk of escape may be reduced and therefore a lower bond amount could be ordered.

There are a couple of important considerations to remember about bond amounts and bond conditions. First, the bond amount set at the original filing of the charge is determined without input from the suspect. The prosecuting attorney presents information and evidence gathered by law enforcement and arranges it in the most incriminating way possible. This information is all the judge uses to set the first bond amount. It is evident that this amount is in no way favorable to the accused. Now onto the second point: the amount and conditions can change. These changes can be very drastic, especially if the defendant hires an experienced criminal defense attorney to argue for a reduction. Once facts and law are argued from both ends of the spectrum, the judge is given a more accurate picture of the situation. This can lead to a more reasonable bond amount and/or bond conditions.

Violating Bond

An individual can violate bond in a couple of ways. The first way is if they fail to appear at their court hearing. This is more than just their first appearance, it is every court date until the matter is resolved or the court orders that the bond is released or excuses the defendant from an appearance. Secondly, violating a condition, violates bond. The following are examples: having a positive drug test, missing substance abuse meetings, or unauthorized leaving of the residence while on house arrest.

The immediate result of a bond being violated is an arrest warrant issued for the individual. This new arrest warrant can have a new bond amount and conditions, which are almost guaranteed to be more severe than previously set due to the defendant’s failing to abide by the initial bond. Additionally, the money used as “collateral” will be lost. This means it will not be used towards court costs, fines, or fees; instead it is forfeited to the court for failing to keep your end of the bonding contract. If the bond was secured through a bondsman, the agent will attempt to find and arrest the defendant. This is called “bounty hunting.” Bounty hunting is a common practice of bail bondsman agencies and can be a very effective way of locating individuals that have jumped bail.