The bail process can be complicated and especially overwhelming when you're learning it with the added stress of you or a family member facing criminal charges. First, let's talk about what a bail bond actually means.
Regardless of the bond method, the bond is a contractual agreement that ensures the appearance of the defendant in trial and return of the money/collateral posted to either the defendant, cosigner, or bondsman (depending on who put up the money/collateral). Essentially, being released on bail does not guarantee your freedom and does not come without conditions. If the conditions of bail or violated or the defendant does not hold court obligations, the defendant will be arrested and await trial in custody.
Once bail has been set, there are four ways to attain pretrial release, or release on bail, in the state of Louisiana:
The commercial bond is the most common because it involves a much smaller fee (compared to the bail amount) and a faster process than some. For this type of bond, the defendant or a family member calls a bondsman after the bail is set to start the process. The bondsman will ask questions regarding the residence of both the defendant and the cosigner, how long the defendant has been living at their current address, the defendant's criminal history, and the employment status of the defendant and cosigner. Assuming the interview/application goes well, the bondsman will post bail and charge the defendant with a bail bond premium, which is 10% of the bail amount, plus 2% of the bail for the Sheriff's Office. If the bond amount is $1,000 or less, the premium amount is automatically $120. Additionally, the bondsman may charge an application fee.
If the defendant does not show up in court on a commercial bond, the bondsman is responsible and a bounty hunter is dispatched to find and arrest the defendant.
A personal surety bond is essentially the same as a commercial bond in that a contract is opened with a bondsman and they post the bail in place of the defendant. However, for a personal surety bond, the responsibility of the defendant attending court obligations falls on a third party.
A cash bond is exactly what it sounds like. The defendant or a third party puts up the full bail amount in cash with the Sheriff's Office. When the case is over, the full amount is returned to whomever posted the bond, as long as the defendant attended all court obligations.
Lastly, a property bond allows the defendant (or a third party) to post collateral in exchange for their pretrial release. In the case of a property bond, this collateral must be equitable and immovable property within the state of Louisiana. This bond method is an extensive process of appraisals and paperwork, but often only costs the defendant or third party a few hundred dollars to record the lien (contract giving the Sheriff's Office the right to keep possession of property until case is closed).