Legal Dictionary

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Appearance Bond

Appearance Bonds are posted for the release of a criminal defendant in federal court. An Appearance Bond is a written promise given by a defendant in federal court that he/she will attend all required court appearances and will not engage in any illegal activity or prohibited conduct as set by the court. Usually, a monetary amount is set by the court, but is not paid by the defendant unless the defendant fails to appear in court and the court orders it forfeited. The court may require that someone other than the defendant sign the Appearance Bond and promise to pay if the defendant fails to appear.

The theory is that the defendant is less likely to want to have a family member or a friend pay the bail amount in the event the defendant does not make his or her required court appearances. If the defendant or the co-signer does not post cash or collateral then the Appearance Bond is considered an unsecured Appearance Bond. If the court requires that cash, property or other collateral be posted, then the Appearance Bond is considered secured.