When someone is accused of a crime, he or can either be kept in jail or sent home to await an upcoming court date. In most cases, defendants are required to pay a set amount of money as a guarantee that they'll return to court as ordered. If they don't show up for the court proceeding, they forfeit the money. Some people are allowed to post a certain percentage of their bail using a bail bondsman, while others must post the entire amount; these bonds are known as cash only bonds.


If you've been accused of a crime, you may be allowed to remain free before your court date. The judge can require a cash deposit to guarantee your return, known as a cash only bond.

Reasons for a Cash Only Bond

Courts can decide to assign a cash only bond for a number of reasons, mostly having to do with a perceived need for more security. These include:

  • A failure to pay previous fines.
  • Arrest due to warrants from other jurisdictions.
  • Failure to appear at a previously scheduled hearing.
  • A defendant who is considered at high risk of not appearing in court.

The Procedure for Paying a Cash Only Bond

You can post a cash bond at the court during normal business hours. If you need to post the bond after the court closes, you can do so at the jail. If paying at the jail, you need to pay the exact amount; the jail will not make change for a cash only bond. Cash bonds paid to the jail can take up to two weeks to go through the system and arrive at the court. For this reason, you should always carry your bond receipt with you to show to the court clerk when you arrive for your trial or hearing.

Coming up with the money for a cash only bond can cause a financial crisis in almost every household. It's important that you weigh the relative importance of your property vs. your freedom in the immediate future. If you're certain that you can follow all the rules of your bail order, creative ways to find money will come in handy. Many people fund bail money by redeeming savings bonds, selling second cars, motorcycles or boats, borrowing money from friends and family or getting cash advances from credit cards.

What Happens to the Cash After Bond Is Posted?

The court holds your cash surety bond until your case has been resolved. If you follow the rules regarding bail and court appearances, you will receive a refund of your bail money within two to six weeks. You may be able to shorten this time by asking the judge to exonerate the bond after your hearing. This means the court will make an entry in your record, making it less likely that the bail money will get lost in the paperwork for weeks before being dealt with.

If you're convicted of the crime of which you've been accused, you may not get any or all of your cash only bond money back. In many states, the judge is allowed to use the cash to help pay off any fines or penalties that may be part of your sentence.