Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary

Bail Bond

A bond that a court accepts in exchange for allowing the defendant to remain at liberty until the end of the case. The defendant pays a certain portion of the bail to a bondsman, usually 10%, and may also have to pledge collateral, such as an interest in real property. The bondsman offers the bond to the court. If the defendant appears at all court dates, the bail will be exhonorated, or ended, but the bondsman will keep the 10%. If the defendant fails to appear for a court hearing, the judge can issue a warrant for his arrest and demand the entire bail. Usually, the bondsman will look for the defendant and bring him back, forcibly if necessary, in order to avoid having to pay the entire bail or selling the collateral to satisfy the bail.