On a TV show recently I heard the judge say:

"Bail is set at 15 million dollars, 5 million dollar bond".

What does this mean? I am familiar with a bail amount, but is this a total of 20 million dollars in two different collateral forms payable to the court or is this simply bad writing on the show and is effectively meaningless? There was no word "and" in the sentence so left it ambiguous from my point of view.

1 Answer 1


Basically, defendants who immediately secure their release with money are bailed out. Defendants who secure their release with collateral (property or a promise to pay) are bonded out. From findlaw.com: What's the Difference Between Bond and Bail?

If the defendant or his family pays bail, he's been bailed out of jail. But many criminal defendants don't have the funds to make bail. This is where bonds come in. Bonds are bail monies paid by a bail bond company. The defendant secures a loan with collateral, such as a car or house. He also pays a set fee, usually 10% of the bail amount. The bail bondsman then pays the court a portion of the bail monies and guarantees that the rest will be paid if the defendant disappears. Courts accept this as assurance because the defendant loses his property if he flees.

  • I understand what a bail bondsman is and that typically they will take a percentage for their services, i.e. 10%. A bail bondsman can always be employed to convert collateral, i.e. supply cash to the court, but they charge a fee. Can this defendant who bail has been set at 15mm dollar cash and 5mm bond finance this himself without needing to sacrifice 10% on 5mm?
    – Attack68
    Commented Oct 17, 2020 at 5:34
  • "...finance this himself?" How? Borrow? From whom? Bonding is financing, bail is not. Commented Oct 17, 2020 at 16:35
  • My original understanding is that the court required, in all cases, cash as collateral for bail. Either a defendant could post the cash privately, or secure the services of a third party bail bondsman who would post the cash to the court, secured by a smaller cash deposit and form of collateral (car, house) from the defendant. My question is why the judge has specifically set bail as "15mm dollars [I assume cash], 5 million bond". Why has the judge been this specific, why not just say 20 million dollars, or otherwise can the defendant offer non-cash collateral directly to court upto 5mm?
    – Attack68
    Commented Oct 17, 2020 at 16:45
  • The judge has been specific because that's the law in that jurisdiction; bail and bond are different risks (for both the defendant and the court) and different sources of money and the law clearly stipulates what the defendant can and can't do. Some states allow a defendant to privately borrow money for cash bail; others don't. Some jurisdictions allow collateral instead of cash; it depends. Commented Oct 17, 2020 at 17:10

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