Note: Because the court offers many variables based on the individual arrested, this summary of how bail works doesn’t include everything that could happen.
When someone is arrested on a criminal charge they may be held for trial, unless they furnish the required bail as ordered by the court. A bail bond includes any contract guaranteeing the attendance in court of anyone arrested or confined due to an actual or alleged violation of the law.
There are 2 different sources of bail bonds:
Depending on your relationship to the defendant, it’s important to understand that you may be very worried and under stress because of the arrest. Take the time to fully understand the bail bond contract and know your rights. Understand what you’re promising.
Bonds cost a minimum of $50 plus other applicable bonding fees may be added. Bonds over $1,000 usually cost 10% of the bond. For example, if bail is set at $9,000, the premium would be $900 and other bonding fees may be added to the 10%. All costs must be disclosed up-front. If you pay with a credit card, you shouldn’t be charged a fee for using a Visa or MasterCard. This is a rule set by the credit card company, not the Department of Licensing. The fees that you pay are called premiums and aren’t refundable.
The person who pays for the bail bond premium or places collateral in trust with the bail bond agent is called the indemnitor. Depending upon the cost of the bail bond, you may be required to give the bail bond agent collateral in addition to the premium. Bail bond agency requirements will vary on collateral requirements. Your collateral can be in the form of cash, car, or property titles or other items of value. The bail bond agent will hold the collateral in trust until the bond is exonerated. Exonerated means that the person arrested, (the defendant), has appeared in court as required. Exoneration of the bond does not necessarily dismiss the charges against the defendant.
It’s important to understand the bail agreement/contract before you agree to be the indemnitor. When a bail bond is issued, the defendant agrees to appear in court at the designated time and date. Part of your obligation as the indemnitor, as well as the defendant’s obligation, is to keep the bail agent advised of any changes in the defendant's contact, address, or employment information until the bail bond has been exonerated.
If the defendant fails to appear at the court appointment:
You are entitled to a copy of the signed agreement/contract. The bail bond agreement runs for the life of the case being bonded. The premium is normally paid when the agreement is signed and each anniversary of the bond. The premium isn’t refundable, and is fully earned regardless of the outcome of the case.
If you have a complaint, please send us a completed Public Protection Services Complaint with photocopies of original documents to:
Public Protection Services
Department of Licensing
PO Box 9649
Olympia, WA 98507-9649.