When defendants are released from jail, they are temporarily released on bail or bond until a future court date. While the terms are often used interchangeably, they are two separate terms of release; the difference is found in the source of the money paying any release fees.
Bail is the monetary amount a defendant must pay to secure freedom until an appearance in court. If the defendant does not show up for court dates, the amount is forfeited and further disciplinary action is taken. Sometimes a family member or friend may offer the bail amount to secure a defendants freedom. However, if the amount is high, or a defendant does not have the resources to pay the bail amount, they may seek a bond company for assistance.
Bonds are bail monies paid by a bail bond company. A bail bondsman works with a defendant to secure a loan with collateral (typically a car or house) and sets a fee, (usually a percentage of the bail amount). The bondsman then pays the court a portion of the bail, guaranteeing the balance paid if the defendant doesn’t appear for future court dates. In cases that defendants do not show up for court, the bond company then works to locate the alleged criminal and return them to police custody, often revoking the terms of the bond loan.
Another common term is a signature bond. This option is given to less serious offenders, with low likelihood of fleeing or missing court dates. Signature bonds allow defendants to sign a bond, promising on their own recognizance, they will return to court.
In short, defendants who immediately secure their release with money are bailed out. Those who secure their release with collateral are bonded out.