People are often familiar with the idea of posting bail from courtroom dramas on TV. Bounty hunters, or people who hunt down fugitives who try to skip bail, are also common TV fare. What the TV-watching public is likely less familiar with is that if you are arrested and ordered to appear in court, posting a bail is not the only option that you have. If you understand what your options are, you can try to get a better option for yourself that will save you money.
Definitions for what bail options are will vary from state to state, but when you are released to your own recognizance, you don't have to pay a bail up front. As long as you appear in court on the specified day, and you don't engage in any illegal activity, you don't have to pay bail at all. Monetarily, this option makes the most sense. If you want recognizance to be an option in your case, you need to do your best to make the case that you are an upstanding citizen and not a flight risk.
When you are required to pay a surety bond, you do not have to pay the full bond amount as long as you appear in court. Instead, a third party—the bond agent—requires you to pay a percentage of the bail amount to them and then they post the bail to the court. In some cases, they simply agree to pay the full amount to the court if you don't appear in court. This is not a bad option in that you don't have to pay the full amount of the bond. If recognizance is not an option for you, then a surety bond should be your next choice. Make the case that the risk of you not appearing in court is minimal, and remember that if you do not appear in court, the bonding agent can hunt you down and return you to court so that they can get their money back.
In terms of bail, a cash bond should fall in the category of "avoid whenever possible." As the name implies, a cash bond requires you to pay the full amount of the bail in cash up front. You only get this money back when you appear in court. Cash bail is issued to people who are a high flight risk.
When it comes to bail, there is a lot you can do to hurt yourself. To make the whole process as convenient as possible, work with your lawyer to show that you are responsible and want nothing more than to settle your court case as quickly as possible.
For more information, talk with your lawyer or a bail bonds company in your area, such as All Star Bail Bonds.