Posting Bond in a Criminal Case in Michigan

The Michigan bail statute, MCL 765.6, states the following:

(1) Except as otherwise provided by law, a person accused of a criminal offense is entitled to bail. The amount of bail shall not be excessive. The court in fixing the amount of the bail shall consider and make findings on the record as to each of the following:

(a) The seriousness of the offense charged.

(b) The protection of the public.

(c) The previous criminal record and the dangerousness of the person accused.

(d) The probability or improbability of the person accused appearing at the trial of the cause.

(2) If the court fixes a bail amount under subsection (1) and allows for the posting of a 10% deposit bond, the person accused may post bail by a surety bond in an amount equal to 1/4 of the full bail amount fixed under subsection (1) and executed by a surety approved by the court.

(3) If a person is arrested for an ordinance violation or a misdemeanor and if the defendant's operator's or chauffeur's license is not expired, suspended, revoked, or cancelled, the court may require the defendant, in place of other security for the defendant's appearance in court for trial or sentencing or, as a condition for release of the defendant on personal recognizance, to surrender to the court his or her operator's or chauffeur's license. The court shall issue to the defendant a receipt for the license, as provided in section 311a of the Michigan vehicle code, 1949 PA 300, MCL 257.311a. If the trial date is set at the arraignment, the court shall specify on the receipt the date on which the defendant is required to appear for trial. If a trial date is not set at the arraignment, the court shall specify on the receipt a date on which the receipt expires. By written notice the court may extend the expiration date of the receipt, as needed, to secure the defendant's appearance for trial and sentencing. The written notice shall instruct the person to whom the receipt was issued to attach the notice to the receipt. Upon its attachment to the receipt, the written notice shall be considered a part of the receipt for purposes of determining the expiration date. At the conclusion of the trial or imposition of sentence, as applicable, the court shall return the license to the defendant unless other disposition of the license is authorized by law.

What is the difference between bail and bond?

Bail is the amount of money set by a judge that a person who is in jail for allegedly committing a crime must post with the court before that person may leave jail.  Bail ensures that the person accused of committing a crime appears at future court hearings.  A bond is a special type of contract regarding bail payment between the defendant, the court, and a bonding agency, commonly known as a bondsman.  

A bondsman acts as a middle man between the defendant and the court.  The court sets the bail, and the defendant pays the bondsman a certain amount of money, usually substantially less than the bail amount.  The bondsman in turn promises to pay the full bail amount if the defendant disappears.  The bondsman might also require a pledge of collateral owned by the defendant or his family to secure the defendant’s appearance at court.  

When And How Is Bail Posted?

Bond is set one of two ways: 1) by a predetermined amount for minor offenses, or 2) by a judge. 

If a person is charged with a crime that has a predetermined or “interim” bond, a person or their family and friends may post bail at anytime after the person is in jail. Judges usually set bond at arraignment hearings for all other cases, including felonies. An arraignment for a person still in jail is usually held within 24 to 48 hours following the person’s arrest. 

Where Is Bail Posted?

Once bail is determined, the bail can be posted either at the jail housing the person accused of the crime or at the court having jurisdiction over the person’s case. Depending on the type of bail, the court, and whether a bond agency is used, a person can post bail by credit card, money order, cash, or other payment type.

Are There Different Types of Bonds?

Yes.  The following bonds are commonly used in Michigan courts:

Personal Recognizance Bond

Also known as an appearance bond or an unsecured bond, a personal recognizance bond is a promise by the defendant to appear at all future court proceedings without posting money or property with the court or a bondsman. 

10% Cash Deposit Bond

There are two variations. One option requires a person to pay 10% of the full amount of the bail amount.  For example, for a $100,000 10% bond, a person pays $10,000 to the court for the person’s release.  If that person attends all of their court appearances and doesn’t violate any other condition of the bond, 90% of the money posted will be returned minus court costs and fines assessed at the end of the case. If the person misses a court appearance or violates any condition of the bond, the person posting bond may be liable for the remainder of the bond. If the case ends favorably for the defendant, 100% of the money will be returned. 

The second option is to have a bondsman post a bond to satisfy the bail. If a person chooses a bondsman, the amount of money that must be posted will be 25% of the full bail amount. You will pay the customary 10% premium on the amount actually posted by the bondsman. In the above example, the bond that would be posted would be $25,000 and the person posting the bond would only pay $2500.

Cash Bond

With this bond, a person must post the entire amount of the bail set by the judge before the jail releases the defendant. If the person charged with an offense attends all court hearings, the court will return all of the money posted, minus court costs and fines if unsuccessful in the case. 

Surety Bond

In a criminal case, a surety bond is a bond guaranteed by a bondsman.  Surety bonds are very common. Bond conditions and amounts vary between bondsman. Oftentimes a surety bond will require payment of a portion of the full bail amount with other possible conditions.

When Will The Jail Release Them?

Once a person posts bail, the jail must physically process the person out of the jail.  Processing involves moving a person from their primary housing facility to the receiving area where the jail processes inmates in and out of the jail.  Many people come and leave the jail at all times of the day and night.  Sometimes it may take hours for a jail to process a person for release after they post bail.

What Happens Next?

The court will inform the defendant by mail when they must appear in court next.  The defendant will only receive one notice to appear.  Failure to appear can mean forfeiture of the defendant's bond.  Make sure the defendant's check the mail at the address they gave the court after the defendant is released from jail.

How Do I Get My Money Back?

When a person’s criminal case is complete, and there is bond money to be returned by the court, the person should call the criminal clerk at the court where the person last appeared. Only the person named on the bail receipt may claim any refund – bring current state-issued identification. If you posted a bond through a bondsman, you must obtain paperwork from the court proving that the bondsman’s liability for the bond has ended.