Bond vs. Bail: What’s the Difference Between a Bail Bond and a Surety Bond?

Bail Bond vs Surety Bond

Bonds come in many forms. You may have heard of bail bonds and surety bonds. So, what is the difference between a bail bond and a surety bond? There is some overlap between the two, but there are also important distinctions. Most important of all, these two bonds are not interchangeable – you will need a bail bond in some situations and a surety bond in others. Let’s explore the difference.

What is a Bail Bond?

When a judge sets a bail amount, the defendant in a criminal or civil trial may use a bail bond to pay what the judge requires. The defendant will pay around 10% of the bail amount, then provide enough collateral (property, real estate, etc.) to cover the remainder of the bond amount. If the defendant then fails to appear in court as required, the collateral provided will be forfeited to pay the full amount of the bail required. However, if the defendant appears in court with no violations, the bail bond dissolves at the conclusion of the trial and the defendant gets their collateral back. The bail bondsman keeps 10% of the upfront fee.

What is a Surety Bond?

A surety bond a broad category of bonds designed to compel the bonded party to act in certain ways by holding them financially accountable when they don’t. Surety bonds work like this: An obligee requires a principal to obtain a specific type of surety bond worth a specific amount. Then, if the principal does anything illegal under the law or prohibited under contract, the obligee may file a claim against the surety bond for damages. The surety agency that issues and backs the bond will automatically settle all valid claims in full. However, the principal must pay the surety back the amount of the settlement, plus interest and fees.

What Are the 4 Types of Surety Bonds?

Laws and requirements are different from state to state, which results in many types of surety bonds. They almost always belong to one of these four different categories:

  • Contract Bonds – If one party doesn’t meet the terms established in a contractual agreement by another party, contact bonds hold them responsible. This surety bond is often used for construction projects but can factor into other contractual arrangements. Contract bonds ensure the smooth execution of a contract and hold the other party accountable if there are any issues.
  • Commercial Bonds – To be recognized by the state as a legal business entity, a business or a professional needs to have a commercial bond. Typically, a commercial bond must be obtained before the state grants them a license. States use commercial bond requirements to ensure that professionals abide by legal and ethical behavior, and face accountability when they don’t.
  • Court Bonds – A judge may require someone to obtain a court bond before allowing legal proceedings to move forward. The court bond holds the bonded party financially liable if they fail to act in a manner required by the court. Court bonds are most common in civil cases.

Fidelity Bonds – If an employee of a business has committed a crime, fidelity bonds protect that business and its clients. Unlike commercial and court bonds, businesses aren’t required to get fidelity bonds, but many choose to manage risks that way. Besides that, fidelity bonds operate like an insurance policy, meaning the surety pays the bonded party. This differs from other surety bonds that hold the bonded party financially responsible.

What is the Difference Between Bail and Bond? 

The similarities between bail and bond are apparent, but they are two completely different things. A bail bond is a form of surety bond that specifically addresses someone’s bail obligation to the courts. There are many other types of surety bonds covering everything from a licensed professional’s obligations under state law to a contractor’s requirements under the terms of a contract. In all cases, the bond protects one party (the obligee) from the actions of another (the principal), using an intermediary (the surety) to ensure that victims are compensated and perpetrators are held accountable.

In the specific case of bail bonds, the victim is the court, and the perpetrator is the person who fails to show up in court. Other types of surety bonds work differently, but the underlying process remains the same. If there is a meaningful difference between bail and bonds, it’s this: Not all surety bonds require the person seeking the bond to put up collateral. Some bonds require it, including bail bonds, but for many other surety bonds, you only need to pay a premium to activate bond coverage.

How to Get a Bond

If you need a bail bond for court or a surety bond for some other reasons, your first step is the same: seek out a trusted surety agency. Your choice of a surety agency (or a bond bondsman for a bail bond) is the single most important decision you will make in this entire process, so be sure to move forward with one you trust. When you’re ready to get a bond, you will submit an application, agree to a credit check, provide any other documentation the surety asks for, and, in the case of bail bonds, provide collateral. Your credit will affect your ability to secure a bond and the cost of said bond. However, don’t let credit be an obstacle – take advantage of a special program offered through Viking Bond Service designed to help more people get the bond they need regardless of their credit score or financial history. 

Where to Get Your Bond

You have many options when it comes to getting a bail bond or surety bond, but that’s not always a good thing. Most of these agencies you will want to avoid with something as important as a bond. Don’t waste your time searching for a surety agency you can trust to put your best interests first. Contact Viking Bond instead. We are a nationwide surety agency that goes above and beyond to distinguish itself through service, commitment, and excellence. We do that by making the bonding process fast and easy, by doing everything possible to keep bonds affordable, and by forming a true partnership with everyone we serve. You’re in good hands with Viking Bond Service. Let us take the hassle, confusion, and uncertainty out of bonding – it’s our specialty.

When and Why Are Bail Bonds Useful?

Bail bonds serve several purposes when it comes to criminal cases. They give you or your loved one an option to get out of jail while waiting for a case to be resolved. They also give people a chance to stay with family and keep working while awaiting sentencing. Other practical benefits of bail bonds include reducing jail overcrowding and helping guarantee people won’t flee from police once they’re bailed out.

Viking Bond Service – Your Bond Partner

You are free to request a quote for a bond – surety or bail – at any time. It costs you nothing to get a quote, and it doesn’t obligate you to purchase the bond either. It’s just to give you good information about bonding. Get more good information by contacting Viking Bond Service, either through our contact form or by calling 1-888-278-7389.