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Bail Bond Glossary

We've put together a helpful glossary of words and terms frequently used in law, courtrooms, and of course, the bail bonds industry.  Keep in mind that the precise meaning or applied definition may vary from state to state, and it's possible for a term to have multiple definitions.  We welcome your feedback and encourage you to email or chat with us if you have additional questions or would like more information about this compilation of legal jargon you're likely to hear a bail bondsman use.


The person against whom an accusation is made. Other common terms for this word are Defendant and/or Principal.


A formal court event during which the Defendant appears in front of a judge and is read the charges leveled at him or her in the arrest documents. The judge will also ask the Defendant how he or she pleas. This hearing may also be combined with a right to counsel hearing. For those released from jail on bail, this is typically the first of many court dates.


 Security, a sum of money, exchanged for the release of an arrested person as a guarantee of that person's appearance for court and/or trial.

Bail Forfeiture

Order by the court that the bondsman (and/or his insurer) pay to the court the amount of security pledged for failure of an accused to comply with the requirements of the bond. Although bond forfeitures may be ordered by a judge for a variety of reasons, most common reasons a Defendant’s bond is forfeited is because he or she failed to appear in court for a scheduled court date, or because the Defendant has violated the terms and conditions of his or her pretrial release.

Bail Schedule

A list of crimes and corresponding bail amounts required to release the accused from custody. Each municipality or jurisdiction has its own unique bond schedule, but the bail amounts and release requirements can be altered as the presiding judge sees fit.

Bail bond

A type of assurance used to obtain the pre-trial release of a criminal defendant who has been required to post bail.

Bail bondsman

An individual licensed by state governments to excute bail bonds for arrested persons in return for their guarantee that the accused will physically appear to all court and trial dates.

Bond Court

Judges can also change the amount of bail needed, as can factors such as the nature of the crime, criminal history, and the accused’s standing in the community.


A court order issued by a judge that requires officers to arrest a Defendant and/or take him or her into custody.


Any property or money pledged or given to guarantee bail.

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