Can You Go to Jail for Not Paying Bail Bonds?

You already know that judges tend to grant cash bail with a list of conditions. If the defendant doesn’t meet the requirements, the judge can send them back to jail and keep their bail money. It’s judge’s prerogative, so defendants out on bail need to walk a fine line.

But can you go to jail for not paying bail bonds premiums?

The answer is usually yes.

Here’s what you need to know about your obligations to your bail bond company before you take out the bond.

How to Get a Bail Bond

If you or someone you love needs to post bail but can’t afford it, you can use a bail bond to get them out.

A bail bond company requires you to pay a non-refundable premium to secure your release. In exchange, the bond company signs a surety bond with the court, agreeing to deliver the defendant back to the court or owe the complete cash bail in full to the court.

Although bail bonds are meant to be a way to make bail when you don’t have hundreds or thousands in cash, not everyone can afford the premium.

That’s why bail bond companies often offer payment plans. When you sign up for a payment plan, you agree to pay a monthly or weekly installment totaling up to 15 percent of the cash bail.

Missing that installment can be devastating.

Can You Go to Jail for Not Paying Bail Bonds?

If you fail to pay the premium on the bond, then the defendant can go back to jail.

Bail bond companies have several options if the defendant or their co-signer stops paying the premium.

First, they can go to court and tell the judge that they no longer intend to be responsible for the surety bond. 

Second, the bail bond company can remand the defendant back into custody.

Why Would a Bail Bond Company Send Someone Back to Jail?

When you (either the defendant or their family member) agree to pay a bail bond, you make a binding agreement with the bond company. You must pay the non-refundable premium in exchange for release.

As soon as you sign that agreement, you are on the hook for the premium.

It doesn’t matter if the defendant is found guilty or innocent. It also doesn’t matter if the case is about to get dismissed and the defendant is about to be released.

If you don’t pay the bail bond premium, you are in violation of your contract. Even if the defendant isn’t due to go back to jail, the bond company can take you civil court to request the remainder of the premium payment.

What Can You Do if the Bond Company No Longer Covers You?

If you fail to pay the bond premium, the bond company is within their right to go to the judge and inform the court that they no longer wish to take responsibility for you.

In this case, the defendant then has two option. The first is to find a new bond company. They usually need to find a family member or friend to do this on their behalf. This can be difficult because not only are you still liable for making the original premium payment but now you need to explain why you failed to pay it to a new bond company.

Another option is to ask their attorney to request a lower cash bail amount or argue for a release on a personal bond or recognizance.

The second option works best if the defendant attends their court hearings and it looks like they will get minimal jail time anyway.

However, neither option gets rid of the need to pay the original premium – they only keep the defendant out of jail before trial.

How to Make Sure You Can Pay Your Bond Premium

Failing to pay a bond premium means that the defendant can go back to jail – and you are still liable for the original premium. The bond company can open a civil suit for late payments.

As a result, it’s important to make sure you can afford the bond premium payments before you sign the dotted line.

Here’s what you need to do.

1. Read the Contract Carefully and Don’t Sign Something You Can’t Afford

Only signing a contract you can afford seems like common sense. However, it’s often the case that defendants or their family members are so desperate to post bail that they don’t take the time to think about how they can afford it.

Although arrests are extremely difficult and no one who isn’t convicted of a crime should be left in jail, it is important to stop and think rationally. If you can’t afford the bail bond, ask the bond company about flexible payment options or look for new options.

That brings us to tip #2.

2. Talk to Your Lawyer Before Signing

If you are stressed to the point where you will sign an agreement you can’t afford, ask someone who can be objective to look at it.

A defendant’s criminal defense attorney is an important part of the bail process from beginning to end. They can help you strategize to make the most of a bad situation. A lawyer will also help you come up with options if cash bail – even with a bail bond – is out of the question.

A Bail Bond is a Contract

A bail bond is a legally binding agreement between the bond company and the defendant or co-signer to pay the premium in exchange for services.

Can you go to jail for not paying bail bonds? The answer is yes. If you don’t hold up your end of the bargain, the bond company can remand you back into custody.

As a result, you shouldn’t sign a contract you can’t complete. You could find yourself in a worse position than when you started.

Are you worried about being able to afford a bail bond and looking for a flexible option? Get in touch today for a free consultation to learn how the process works and how you can afford it.