What Does "Cash-Only Bond" Mean?

by Cynthia Gomez; Updated September 26, 2017
By paying a cash-only bond, defendants in custody may be allowed to walk out of jail.

A bond allows a person in official custody to leave jail on the understanding that he will appear in court at a later date. The bond acts as collateral to ensure he appears. As opposed to other kinds of bonds, which can be secured by collateral such as a home, cash-only bonds are bonds that can be posted only with cash.

Purpose of Cash Bonds

The purpose of cash bonds is to ensure that a person appears when scheduled. People often don’t have large amounts of money sitting around, so they can’t pay a cash bond, and, thus, stay in jail. And those who can come up with the cash for the bond will likely appear when asked because they don’t want to lose their cash.

Common Reasons for Cash Bond Issuance

A cash bond may be issued for a few reasons: when a person is considered a flight risk, when a defendant has failed to pay fines on previous cases or when an arrest is made on a warrant issued by another jurisdiction.

Process for Paying Cash Bond

Cash-only bonds can typically be paid at the court where it was issued during court hours. After hours, you’ll likely need to go to the jail to post the bond. The court holds the cash until the end of the case, at which point it is refunded. If a defendant fails to appear, the court typically issues a warrant for his arrest and simultaneously forfeits the bond, unless the failure to appear was due to miscommunication or a circumstance beyond the defendant’s control.


If you're posting a cash bond at a jail, there may be a substantial delay before the cash makes it to the court. Defendants out on cash-only bonds paid at the jail should bring their bond receipts to the court to prove to the judge that bail has been met. Additionally, if you’re posting your own cash bond or having a family member post bond for you, be aware that the court may use some of the money to pay for fines and court fees. This is less likely to happen with bonds posted by unrelated third parties such as professional bondsmen. However, not all bail companies offer cash-only bonds.

About the Author

Cynthia Gomez has been writing and editing professionally for more than a decade. She is currently an editor at a major publishing company, where she works on various trade journals. Gomez also spent many years working as a newspaper reporter. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northeastern University.

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