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Glossary of Terms

Bail Agent – Licensed person who posts an appearance bond

Bond Amount – The amount of bail that is required to be posted for defendants release from jail

Cash Bond – California bail law allows an individual to provide the cash equivalent of the entire bail amount directly to the County. This becomes a private transaction as opposed to using a bail agent and purchasing a “surety bond” for 10% of the bail amount. After the defendant has completed all required court appearances the County releases the monies back to the original owner.

Citation Release – This procedure involves the issuance of a citation by the arresting officer to the arrestee, informing the arrestee that he or she must appear at an appointed court date. Cite Outs usually occur immediately after an individual is arrested and no financial security is taken.

Collateral – Property or titles given by a person to a bail bond agent as security for posting the bond.

Defendant – Person charged with an alleged criminal act.

Exonerate, exoneration – Exoneration of charges is the full release of the defendant from his/her court obligation in addition to releasing the bond/bail agency from further responsibility.

Expiration Date – Bonds are valid for one year. In the event the defendants’ case continues beyond one year, the bail agent is entitled to another 10% premium at the one year anniversary.

Forfeiture – A forfeiture occurs when a defendant fails to appear in court as scheduled.

Forfeit – Bond money is turned over to the city, county or state by the judge's order.

Indemnitor – A bail bond indemnitor is the co-signer for the bail bond. The indemnitor is responsible for seeing that all premiums are paid for a defendant`s bail bond. The indemnitor can also be called the guarantor.

O.R. or Release on Own Recognizance – Through a pre-trial release program that is administered by county or local law enforcement agencies, defendants might be eligible to be released without any financial security (bail) required.

PFN – If arrested in Alameda County of California, the defendant will be issued a PFN identification, which stands for Person File Number. This number is permanently assigned to the defendant and will become a lifelong number associated to this arrested person. It is required for obtaining information about the defendant and is required for mailing, etc.

Premium – The "premium" is the amount paid to the bail bonds agency for posting bond on behalf of the co-signor and defendant. The amount of this premium is usually 10% of the amount of the bail and is enforced by the State of California. This is similar to payment of any premium for an insurance policy.

Property Bond – A private party may obtain release of a defendant from custody by means of posting a property bond (real estate) with the court.  This requires the court to record a lien on property, to secure the bail amount. If the defendant subsequently fails to appear at the scheduled court dates, the court may institute foreclosure proceedings against the property to obtain the forfeited bail amount.

Reinstatement – The resumption of the liability on a bail bond that was forfeited for failure to appear.


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