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How much does a
bail bond cost?
The fee charged for
a bail bond is called the premium and is considered earned upon
the release of the accused from jail. In most U.S. states bail
bond rates "premiums" are approved and regulated by the
department of insurance of each state and typically range from
10% to 20% of the bonds face value.
What you should know before you
post a cash bond directly instead of through a bail bondsman.
Is the new bail law justice?
By WAVENEY ANN MOORE
Published February 19, 2006
This could happen to you !
Seventy-four-year-old John Herman Strobridge has been
bailing his son out of jail for years.
But a change in state law - and the way County officials
interpreted it to apply retroactively - caught him unaware when
he put up his own money to get his eldest son, John Allan
Strobridge, 45, out of jail one more time. Using money he got
from the refinancing his home to pay debts, he presented a
$5,000 cashier's check from his Bank to release his son from the
County Jail. He thought he would get his money back after his
son's court appearance in January. He got a check in the mail,
but it was meager: $122.30. No explanation...
"I thought I would get all my money back," said the distraught
retired truck driver, sitting in the living room of his small
Two other sons, one of whom had traveled to celebrate their
father's 74th birthday on Feb. 13, took up the cause. What they
learned made them angry.
The bail had been posted back in March 2005, months before a new
statute took effect on July 1. That rule authorizes court clerks
to collect "any unpaid court fees, court costs and criminal
penalties" from cash bonds posted on behalf of a criminal
defendant by a person other than a bail bond agent.
The court took the new rule and applied it retroactively.
Ironically, the father avoided a bail bondsman to save money. A
bondsman would have charged a fee of $500 - 10 percent - and
might have required collateral as well.
The statute is being interpreted to mean that the clerk can
collect outstanding fines and fees dating back before the
statute went into effect. In John Allan Strobridge's situation,
money was owed as far back as 1991. The grand total was
When the elder Strobridge posted bail in March, it was because
his son had slugged a bicyclist for running over the family dog.
The 15-year-old pet died.
"He killed my dog," said John Allan Strobridge, as he sat in his
In the end, the younger Strobridge was charged with felony
battery and given probation. Out of the $5,000, the cost for
this case was $917, a fraction of the total the court eventually
deducted for years of old cases.
His brother Joseph Strobridge, 44, is outraged. He said his
father was like any other parent, simply trying to help his son.
"He has no retirement savings. All he has is his home. I don't
see how they can interpret the law to allow them to take money
from previous cases that were not under that statute. ...
They're getting greedy," he said.
Joseph Strobridge said his father has been helping his brother
for many years, but wanted to avoid using a bail bondsman last
year to save money.
"He never had the money to do that before. To me, this is a
crime against the elderly. This is not about my dad anymore," he
said, adding that other elderly parents will also lose money.
"They're all in for a big surprise, because it can take up to
two years for something to go to trial."
Ken Burke, Pinellas County clerk of the circuit court, said he
understands why Strobridge is upset, but there is nothing he can
"I sympathize with him. I agree with him. Unfortunately, my role
as clerk, it's not a policy role. ... The way the state looks at
it, here's an opportunity to collect fines and there's money
there that should be paid," he said.
Burke added that county attorneys say the statute contains no
language limiting its application to bonds posted after a
certain date. "It just said that any money we returned should
have the deduction for outstanding fines and costs," Burke said.
Others interpret the statute differently.
"Typically, every case has a separate cash bond, and that's how
we've been handling it here in Pasco," said director of court
services Rosalyn Fenton.
"We would not take a case arriving out of a separate incident at
another time. That is not how we are applying that change in
procedures. The only way other cases would be taken into account
would be when those cases are counts in a main case. We would
apply that cash bond to the case the bond was issued on."
Dale Bohner, legal counsel to the clerk of the circuit court in
Hillsborough County, said the statute is being applied according
to the date the bond was given. "We don't do the deductions
unless the bond was issued after July 1," he said.
It's the same in Brevard County.
"We only do it with a cash bond that is posted after July 1,"
said LeAnn Sparks, traffic accountant for Brevard County clerk
of the courts.
"We just do it that way because we don't think that's the way
the law is supposed to be imposed," said Scott Ellis, Brevard
County's clerk of the courts.
Joseph Strobridge agrees. His brother, who has had legal
problems for years, is a drug addict and bipolar, he said. Their
father has always felt the need to rescue his oldest son, he
Records show his brother's crimes have included felony battery,
possession of cocaine, burglary and grand theft. The brother,
who receives Supplemental Security Income disability pay and
lives in his father's home, expressed regret that his father
lost his money.
"I feel for my dad," he said.
Tampa, Fl. :
Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.
This could very well happen to any of us who post a cash bond.
Some counties are charging a percentage of the cost of defending
an accused. So beware if you have a legal aid lawyer (public
defender) the clerk may deduct from your cash bond a fee for the
costs of defending you.
This only applies to cash bonds posted with the jail not a bail
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