Pay a Bond or Pay a Lawyer

click for a free consultation
Pay a Bond or Pay a Lawyer

Whenever someone is facing a criminal offense, especially felonies, almost always a bond is required. However, bonds can be all over the map from a couple hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not more). Typically, if the bond is in the thousands, the question we get the most is, “should I pay the bond or pay a lawyer with that money?” While the answer is it depends and can vary depending on the county, judge, and underlying offense, usually, hiring a lawyer first makes more sense. This blog will explain why and will give examples. But first, let’s discuss the different bonds.

For an overview of all the different bonds, please click here.

The three most popular bonds are:

  1. Surety Bonds: whereby you have to pay 10% of the total bond amount to a bondsman (i.e. the judge sets a $100,000 surety bond, and you have to pay a bondsman $10,000 to get out of jail, and they then insure the remaining $90,000 if you don’t reappear) It is important to note that at the end of the case, you cannot get your bond monies back on a surety bond — that’s how bondsman make money
  2. PR Bond: very similar to a surety bond, however someone other than a bondsman must pay the bond (i.e. the judge sets the bond at $100,000 PR, and you or someone you choose must pay the clerk/court/jail $10,000 to get out of jail),
  3. Cash Bond: typically, cash bonds are the best. The judges will usually set a cash bond at whatever the 10% of a typical surety bond would be (i.e. a $100,000 surety would require $10,000 to a bondsman, so the judge would set a cash only bond at $10,000 in lieu of a surety).

There is also the option that the court could combine a couple of these bonds, say a $90,000 surety bond and a $1,000 cash bond.

So, now that we have discussed the bond options and the most typical bonds set, what makes the most sense you might ask: pay the bond or pay for a lawyer? Usually, on any lower level cash bond ($750 cash or less or $7,500 surety or less) it makes sense to just pay the bond if you can afford it. The reason being is that by the time a bond review is requested and set, you could be a few days to a couple of weeks removed from the arrest. Hiring a lawyer in an attempt to get them released without bond or to have the bond lowered may only save you a couple of hundred dollars.

However, if your cash bond is over $750 dollars or a surety bond is set at $7,500 or more, it usually is more prudent to spend that money on a lawyer. The further you get from those amounts, hiring a lawyer makes even more and more sense.

For example, we recently had a client who had a $1,000,000 bond on a high-level offense. As a surety bond, that was $100,000 the family had to pay to a bondsman (something they couldn’t do and didn’t want to waste $100,000 dollars). Rather than paying that bond right up front, they hired us. We requested an expedited bond review, and within a week, we got the bond lowered to $250,000 or 10% cash only. That gave the family two options: (1) pay $25,000 to a bondsman (a $75,000 savings from the original bond) or pay $25,000 cash to the clerk (also a $75,000 savings). In this example, we saved the client multiple-times our fee just by hiring us first. Had they paid the bond in a rush; they would have lost that money forever.

In the example above, there is also another reason to hire a lawyer first. Lawyers like converting surety bonds to cash bonds. That way, even if the judge doesn’t alter the amount of the bond, if the bond is converted to cash instead of surety, that bond money is available for fees at the end of the case and the attorney can attach a lien to the bond for their own fees. So, effectively, you get to double dip! You get to pay the bond to get out of jail AND your lawyer can use the fees for their services! If it stays a surety, that is not possible!

As you can tell, hiring a lawyer over posting a bond is not always a straightforward question, but talking to a lawyer prior to paying a bond is probably the smartest thing you can do. Should you or your loved one be facing a criminal offense, give the experienced Indianapolis Criminal Lawyers at Banks & Brower, LLC a call today at 317.870.0019 or email us at We are available 24/7/365.