This bail bonds glossary of terms was put together to help those who may not understand some of the legal jargon and terms of their bail bonds application or indemnitor application. If you are not familiar with or are new to the surety bail industry, much of the terminology and everyday language will sound foreign to you. The following terms, definitions and industry information may be of help to you. Of course, if you need further explanation, feel free to contact a local bondsman near you.

Bail Bonds Glossary Terms

Affidavit: A written statement given voluntarily under oath before a notary public or other official authorized to administer oaths.

Agency: A business location at which a licensed and appointed bail bond agent engages in any activity and employs individuals to engage in any legal activity under the license and appointment of bail bonds.

Arraignment: The first appearance of the criminal defendant before a judge to address the charges he/she has been accused of. The judge will set or deny bail at this stage.

Bail: Monetary or other form of security given to ensure the appearance of the defendant at every stage of the proceeding. Bail is a surety contract made up of three parties. The Obligee, The Obligor and The Surety (see definitions for explanation). The bail contract is also written for an indefinite term and also must remain in effect until the obligation is fulfilled. It cannot be cancelled in the same manner as an insurance policy. Surrender of the defendant, however, is one method of fulfilling the obligation and allows the surety to be relieved of liability.

Bail Bond: The document executed to secure the release of an individual in custody of the law.

Bail Bondsman: A limited surety agent or professional bondsman.

Bond: Customarily a written statement instrument in which one party (the principal, the defendant) agrees to perform some act for the benefit of a second party (the obligee), and a third party (the surety) agrees to pay the sum of money that has been fixed as the penalty if the principal (defendant) fails to perform.

Build-Up Fund: A fund that is held in trust for the limited surety agent by the surety company and into which a portion of all bond premiums are paid. This fund is normally used to indemnify the company from losses that might be caused by the agent.

Collateral: Something of monetary value to protect the surety from loss. If the defendant fails to appear in court and cannot be apprehended and returned to the custody of the court, the collateral could be sold and paid to the court to cover the amount of the bail. An example of collateral may include a home, land, buildings, vehicles, jewelry and cash.

Contract: A legally binding agreement between two or more persons.

Defendant: One who must defend himself in some action at law. In criminal proceedings, the accused. In criminal surety bonds, the principal.

Discharge: In reference to a surety bond, to fulfill the obligations of the bond. In bail bonds, the bond is said to be “discharged” when the case is disposed of.

Exoneration: To remove a burden or release from a duty.

Extradition: Extradition is the legal process by which a person who has committed a crime in one state and fled to another state may be returned to the state where the crime was committed.

Extradition Bond: Used by the defendant in extradition proceedings to gain his freedom in the arresting state while a decision is being reached on whether he will be handed over to the requesting state. Guarantees that he will surrender himself, if ordered to do so, to be returned to the requesting state.

Forfeit: To give up or surrender something as a penalty for having failed to comply with a legally recognized obligation.

Forfeiture: Failure of the defendant to appear at the time, date and place of required appearance shall result in forfeiture of the bond.

General Agent: An individual, partnership, association, or corporation appointed or employed by an insurer to supervise or manage the bail bond business written by limited surety agents licensed by the company.

Indemnitor: One who indemnifies the defendant. To secure against loss; to insure; to hold harmless.

Jump Bail: Leaving the jurisdiction or any other act by a defendant to avoid a court appearance after a bail bond has been posted.

Limited Surety Agent: An individual who is appointed by an insurer with power of attorney to execute or countersign bail bonds in connection with judicial proceeding, and who therefore receives or is promised money or other things of value.

Obligee: The party to whom some obligation is due. (The State)

Obligor: The party who owes the duty or debt; the principal. In bail, the defendant.

Premium: The sum paid to an insurer for providing insurance or a surety bond. – Professional Bondsman: Any person who pledges U.S. currency, U.S. postal money orders, cashier’s checks, or other property as security for bail bonds in judicial proceedings, and who therefore receives or is promised money or other things of value.

Surety: One who undertakes to pay money or to perform some act if the principal fails to pay or perform. (An insurer or surety company).

Temporary Bail Bond Agent: A person operating under a temporary license, under the supervision of a duly licensed and appointed bondsperson, managing general agent or authorized insurer. Please check with your state to determine if working with a temporary bail bondsman is allowed.