Getting arrested and sitting in jail while you're awaiting a trial can cause you to lose your job, fall behind on family responsibilities, and more. This is why so many people turn to a bail bond service to pay their bail and get released rather than sitting behind bars. When you arrive for your first court date only to find out the charges against you are being dropped, you'll understandably want to know what has happened to the bail money. Learn where the money goes and what you still have to pay even after having charges dropped.
Getting Your Money Back
When the charges are dropped, the bail bond money is returned to the party who paid it. This is only true if you stuck to the original agreement of showing up for every court date that is scheduled. After the decision to drop the charges is made, the money will be returned to the bond company and not to you. Bond money is only returned to you if you paid it in full out of your own pocket. If it was a family member or friend that paid the bond in full, they'll receive a check made out to their name rather than yours.
Paying Bonding Fees
When you ask a bail bond service to secure your release, they in turn request a fee based on a percentage of the total bond. This amount is usually around 10%, but it depends on the state and county. For a bond of $5,000, this means the fee will be $500. When relying on a bail service, the fee is all you pay upfront to secure a release. Since the bail service was the one to pay the actual total amount, they receive that bond back, rather than you. You will also not receive any of the fee you paid back, since the fee was for the bail payment. Having your charges dropped will not result in the bail service refunding you the fee, even if the charges are dropped just minutes after you're released.
Forfeiting the Bond
A bond amount is only ever returned after the conditions of the bail are satisfied. When you are let out on a bond, you in turn agree to show up for every single court date set for the case. Even if you only miss one court date before finding out your charges are dropped, or if you don't show up because you've heard they're going to be dropped, the bail bond is considered forfeit, and you will have to pay back the service who issued the bond. If you turned to a bail bond service in the first place because you didn't have thousands of dollars on hand to pay, you likely won't want to spend that money later to pay back a bond service.
Suing the State
It can sting to know you're innocent and have to pay a bail bond service fee that you know you won't receive back after having the charges dropped. If you paid a substantial fee and you're dead set on recouping it, you can sue the state for wrongful arrest. Winning a wrongful arrest case can trigger the return of a bail bond service fee. The service itself won't have to pay you back, but the state will repay you the same amount as compensation. However, don't forget to calculate court costs and legal fees before starting down this road. Winning may still cost you more than you'll receive back as a refund.
Waiting for Refunds
Bail bond refunds take a few weeks to be processed. The court clerk will let you know what paperwork to fill out and how long to wait. If you're not expecting a refund personally because a bail service paid the bond, you don't have to do anything after finding out the charges are dropped since the bail service will handle requesting their money back.