Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who is currently facing felony charges in connection with the killing of George Floyd, has been released from jail after posting bond on October 7th. Chauvin’s unconditional bail was set at $1.25 million and his conditional bail was set at $1 million. Chauvin is currently charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
How did Chauvin manage to come up with such a large sum of money? Before that question can be answered the difference between paying bail and posting bond must be explained. There is often confusion between these terms, as they are commonly used interchangeably. However, while these are similar concepts, there are important differences between them.
Bail is an amount that a defendant may pay to be released from custody until their next court date. The judge sets the bail amount based upon how likely the defendant is to flee the jurisdiction or fail to appear for court and upon the potential for danger to the community if the defendant is released. In Chauvin’s case, the judge set unconditional bail at $1.25 million and conditional bail at $1 million. This means that one option Chauvin had to be released was to post either $1.25 million or $1 million cash.
If the defendant chooses to pay bail, the court will hold the money until the case reaches a resolution whether by dismissal, plea agreement, or verdict following trial. Provided that the defendant abides by all conditions set by the judge and attends all of their court dates, they will have their bail amount returned to them, minus any fines and fees imposed. An alternative way to think of bail is essentially as providing collateral to ensure the defendant appears in court. In the event the defendant does not appear in court, the judge may forfeit the bail. If Derek Chauvin had paid bail and failed to appear, he may have had his bail money forfeited. It is likely Chauvin did not have $1 million cash available. So, how was Chauvin able to be released?
Instead of paying bail, Chauvin has chosen to post bond. Bond may be posted by a bond company as an alternative to paying the bail amount. Generally, a bond company will require a defendant to pay 10% of the bail amount to the bond company as their fee. Because Chauvin has posted bond, it is the bond company, not the defendant, that may be required to pay the bond amount if he fails to appear. Because the bond company may be required to pay such a large amount, the defendant may be asked by the bond company to abide by certain conditions, to ensure that the company will not have to pay the bond amount. In addition, as part of the agreement with the bond company a defendant is generally required to sign an agreement stating that if the bond company is forced to pay the bail, they can go after the defendant to be reimbursed for the amount paid out.
By posting bond, Chauvin has agreed to appear in court and if not, the bond company may be required to relinquish the bond amount to the court, at the judge’s discretion. It is not clear how Chauvin obtained $100,000 to pay the bond company, but it is plausible to infer Chauvin did not pay this amount out of his own pocket. If he had $100,000 to pay a bond company, he likely would have done so much earlier. Bond is different than bail in the sense that Chauvin does not have to pay $1 million, but that amount may still have to be paid to the court in the event he fails to appear.
Posting bond is basically a more affordable way to be released from custody while a case is pending. There are certain conditions that Chauvin will be required to abide by, including not leaving Minnesota, not possessing firearms or ammunition, and not having contact with the family of George Floyd. Chauvin could likely have never afforded to pay the bail amounts set. As a result, posting bond was likely his only way to be released from custody.
For more information on the requirements for posting bail, contact a knowledgeable attorney at the BK Law Group. A member of our legal team could explain the differences between bail and bond and ensure that you are aware of the state laws surrounding this concept.