What is bail?
Bail or bond is an amount of money in cash or surety bond for the purpose of making sure that a particular person attends all required court appearances. Bail allows an arrested person (defendant) to be released from jail until his or her case is completed.

Who can post bail?
Any person can post his or her own bail. If the defendant is financially unable to bail himself or herself out of jail, any other person over the age of 18 may post the bail.

If I bail someone out of jail, when will I get my money back?
It could take months. If you post a cash bond, you may get some or all of your cash bond back, but it won't be until the case is finished and the necessary paperwork has been processed. If you post a surety bond, you will not get the money you paid for the premium or the Sheriff's fee back.


What is a cash bond?
A cash bond is the full amount of the bail required, paid in cash, to release a defendant from jail.

How much does a cash bond cost?
A cash bond costs the full amount of the bail, AND a nonrefundable $10 Sheriff's fee. Example: A $500 cash bond would cost a total of $510 ($500 plus $10).

How do I post a cash bond?
For instructions on how to post a cash bond, call your local Sheriff's Office. Note: it is unethical for a bail bond agent to post a cash bond on your behalf, a cash bond can be posted by the defendant or another person.

Can I change my mind after I post a cash bond for someone?
You may have the defendant return himself or herself back to jail at any time before the defendant misses a court date. If the defendant is returned to the jail, you will need to get the necessary paperwork from court personnel at your local courthouse. Complete the paperwork and return it to the Court. A deputy clerk will give the paperwork to the judge for approval. Allow approximately two weeks for processing after the judge approves the paperwork.

If I post a cash bond, will I get my money back?
Maybe. If the defendant attends all court appearances and either pleads guilty or is found guilty, by Idaho law, I.C. 19-2923, a cash bond can be used to satisfy fines and costs:

...when the money has been deposited, if it remains on deposit at the time of the judgment for the payment of a fine, the clerk must, under the direction of the court, apply the money in satisfaction thereof, and after satisfying the fine and costs, must refund the surplus, if any, to the party posting the deposit.

The person posting the bond should inform the jail whose money is being used for the bond since any remaining money will be returned to the person named on the cash bond receipt.

On the other hand, if the defendant attends all court appearances and is found not guilty or the charges are dropped, the person named on the cash bond receipt should automatically receive a refund of the bail amount in the mail. Allow approximately two weeks after the case is completed for processing.

What happens if the defendant misses court?
The judge will issue a bench warrant for the defendant's arrest, and the bond will be in forfeit (default).  In this instance, the only way you will get your cash bond back is for you to find the defendant and bring him or her back to jail within 90 days of the forfeiture OR for the defendant to be arrested by a law enforcement officer and brought back to jail within 90 days from the date the bond was forfeited.

If the defendant is returned to the jail by you or if the defendant is arrested before the 90 days have passed, then you will need to obtain the appropriate paperwork to request a refund from court personnel at your local courthouse. Complete the paperwork and file it with them to request your money be mailed to you. If the defendant cannot be found within 90 days, you will lose the entire bond.


What is a bail bondsman?
Bondsman, bondsperson, bail agent, and bond agent are all terms used for a person who is licensed by the State Department of Insurance to sell surety bonds and is authorized to conduct business in the State of Idaho. He or she is an agent for an insurance company that sells surety bonds.

What is a surety bond?
A surety bond is an agreement made between one or more persons and a bond agent where the bond agent agrees to post the necessary bail so that a defendant can be released from jail.

The agreement is backed by an insurance company contract which is signed by the person or persons and the bond agent on behalf of the insurance company. The agreement is also backed by sufficient cash or collateral to cover the full amount of the bail if the defendant misses his or her court date.

Only a person who has been licensed by the State Department of Insurance may post a surety bond.

Why would I hire a bondsman?
If you don't have the cash to cover the full bond amount and the Sheriff's fee, you may wish to hire a bondsman to bond yourself or someone else out of jail.

Also, as mentioned above, sometimes a cash bond is kept by the Court. If you are bonding someone out of jail and you don't want to take the chance that all or part of your cash will be used to pay the defendant's court fines, fees and restitution, you may wish to consider hiring a bondsman.

How much does a surety bond cost?
A surety bond will cost you a premium, AND a Sheriff's fee of $10. You will not get any of the premium or the $10 back because it is nonrefundable. A premium, set by the insurance company, may cost about 10% of the total bond plus $25 or $35 dollars. The premium may vary from company to company and their amounts are listed with the Idaho Department of Insurance.

Example: a $5000 bail bond could cost a total of $545 ($500 plus $35 and the $10 Sheriff Fee).

How do I post a surety bond?
Call one of the bail bond agents listed in the yellow pages of the phone book. The defendant and a cosigner will be required to sign the bail agent's contract.

If I'm a consigner, what will I have to do?
If the defendant misses a court appearance, you may be expected to assist the bail bond agent in finding the defendant, to pay the bond agent's expenses of finding the defendant, and to pay the full amount of the bond if the defendant cannot be found.

If I go through a bond agent to post a surety bond, will I get my money and collateral back?
The premium and the Sheriff's fee are not refundable. Whether the remainder of your money and/or collateral is returned or not depends on what you and your bond agent agreed to in the contract. Each contract is different.



How do I post a property bond?
Because using your property as bail is complicated, you may wish to contact an attorney.


What if I can't afford to lose the money I used to bail someone out of jail?
bail someone out of jail if you cannot afford to lose that money or if you can't afford to wait for several months to get it back. As mentioned earlier, even if the defendant makes all court appearances, the cash bond may be used to pay the defendant's fines and fees. In the world of bailing people out of jail, there are no guarantees.

Note: The Sheriff's fee is subject to change without prior notice.

This document is intended to provide basic information only. The situation surrounding the case may be very complicated. For additional information or legal advice, please contact your attorney.

If you have questions or concerns regarding a bail bond agent, contact the Idaho Department of Insurance at (208)334-4321.

Other information regarding the posting of bonds may be directed to your local court personnel, Sheriff's personnel or to the Trial Court Administrator's Office, Room 220 at the Bannock County Courthouse in Pocatello.