Is Surety and Bonding the Same Thing?

An image of money with a post-it of the word "Bonds?" written in Sharpie.

What are Surety Bonds?

There are ‘surety bonds’ and there are ‘bail bonds’, both are issued by a surety company. What are the different types of bonds in Indiana? In a sense, they are the same, yet different. As a whole, there are different classes of surety bonds with each state having its own requirements, depending on the industry or agency. Three of the more common types of bonds are: 

  • Court Bonds (i.e. surety bail bonds), which is the focus of this blog)
  • Construction and Performance Bonds
  • License and Permit Bonds

Within the arena of court bonds, these are typically required for a person who has been arrested and is awaiting in jail to be released.  Once a judge has approved bail, the arrested person can get surety bail bonds via a bail bond agent, which creates an agreement between the three parties: 

  • Principal: the person who acquires the surety bond and promises to follow through with the promised obligations, such as a person who has been arrested. 
  • Obligee: typically, a branch of law enforcement, resulting in either surety bail bonds or a cash bond.
  • Surety: the company that backs the guarantee of the principal their obligation will be completed. If the principal, such as the arrested person) fails to complete their promise, the surety company becomes liable to the court. 

What is the difference between surety bail bonds and cash bail bonds?

A cash bail bond involves only two parties, the arrested and the court. This type of bail bond is paid in cash by the arrested person, or a person representing them, typically a family member or friend. 

How do I get a surety bond in Indiana?

Surety bail bonds can be acquired from a bail bond agent by either the arrestee making their one phone call to a friend family member or a lawyer. Any of those persons go to a bail bond agency office and request surety bail bonds in the amount set by the judge. 

Typically, lawyers are able to get the arrested person released on their own recognizance or by guaranteeing the defendant will return for their court date. The family member or friend who is acquiring surety bail bonds will typically need to pay a minimum of 10% of the bail amount to the bail bond agent, (surety company). 

What happens if they don’t have the 10% to pay? 

When a defendant, a family member, or a friend doesn’t have cash in the amount required to obtain surety bail bonds may be able to acquire the bond by offering collateral. This is determined by the surety company, i.e., the bail bond agency. 

What are the rules for obtaining surety bail bonds in Indiana?

The first set of rules for being released from jail will come from the arraigning judge. It is their decision if a defendant can be released based on basic information that includes: 

  • The reason for the arrest
  • Surrounding circumstances of the arrest
  • The defendant’s criminal background
  • The defendant’s employment status
  • The defendant’s family and residence situation

Once the judge has set a bail amount, which is determined by the charges being filed and following a set protocol, the defendant is returned to their cell until the bail can be posted. At that time, the defendant, a family member or friend, or a lawyer can seek a bond. 

The next set of rules is set by the surety company, i.e., the surety bond company. They have the same basic rules for issuing surety bail bonds that the judge follows and many will include a credit history check, based on the bail amount. 

How long is a defendant held in jail if they can’t make bail?

If a defendant or anyone representing them can’t make bail, by either posting cash bail or securing surety bail bonds, the defendant is held in jail until their court date.

Is there a “no cash” bail law in Indiana?

In such a situation that the arrestee or anyone representing them cannot obtain surety bail bonds or can’t pay a cash bail bond,  could be released without posting bail. This is only if the judge deems that the arrestee “does not present a substantial risk of flight or danger to self or others,”.

How is it determined if the arrestee is a risk to others or a flight risk?

In Indiana, there is ‘Rule 26’ which recommends the court use the IRAS (Indiana Risk Assessment System), an evidence-based risk assessment.

The IRAS is a screening test that can be administered by any certified person connected to law enforcement, such as a judge or probation officer. During the assessment process, Rule 26 prohibits the arrestee from making comments or statements. There are conditions and restrictions established by the judge when deciding to release a person under Rule 26 in lieu of posting cash or surety bail bonds. 

In Closing

While it can be confusing and frightening to receive that “one phone call” from a family member or friend, it is important to make the right decisions in having them released. This includes posting cash or surety bail bonds or obtaining the services of a lawyer. Now is the time to call us at 317-423-9300 if you need surety bail bonds in Indianapolis, IN.