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Bail vs. bond: How do they work in Virginia?

While many people use the words bond and bail interchangeably, they actually have different meanings. Virginia state law has established legal definitions of these terms.

Review the details about bail vs. bond if you or a loved one faces criminal charges in the state.

Understanding bail

In Virginia, bail refers to a person’s release from prison after arrest and before a criminal hearing or trial. The judicial officer assigned to the case specifies the terms and conditions of the bail. At this time, he or she will decide whether to require bond depending on the circumstances of the case.

Reviewing bond

A bond is the secured or unsecured amount a person must pay to guarantee bail. If he or she fails to meet the terms of bail specified by the judicial officer, the court will keep the total bond. Bond does not always require cash. Virginia courts typically recognize three types of bond:

  • Recognizance: For minor offenses, the court does not require bond. You simply sign the bail order and agree to appear in court and meet its other terms and conditions.
  • Surety bond: With this arrangement, you pay a percentage of the bond ordered to a bond agent. This person puts up the rest of the money as a financial guarantee and will collect it from you if you fail to show up in court.
  • Cash bond: You pay the bail amount in cash. You will receive the full amount back when you complete the terms of bail, usually within two to three months.

Following the terms of bail carefully can help you keep bond and avoid further charges.

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