The Hidden Practice of Utilizing Bonds to Cover Legal Financial Obligations

Carmen Diaz, Michelle Ying, Miriam Northcutt Bohmert, Jessica Meckes, Mitchell Farrell
Publication Date
View publication details

Cash bail payments are generally imposed to ensure an individual appears in court after arrest. Lesser known is the practice of bond conversion, wherein bond money is held to pay for legal financial obligations if the individual is found guilty. Procedural justice theory is a useful framework for understanding bail processes. Individuals subject to bond conversion may experience distrust towards a system whose policies are not transparent, potentially reducing compliance with the law. We conduct an assessment of statutes relevant to bond conversion for all 50 states and the US Code. Nearly half of all states and the US Code permit bond conversion via statute; statutes most often authorize conversion to pay for fines, costs, and restitution; most do not require the depositor be given notice, do not include language making exceptions for low-income individuals, and do not exclude third parties. Suggestions for future research on bond conversion are discussed.



Diaz, C., Ying, M., Northcutt Bohmert, M, Meckes, Jessica, and Farrell, M. (2022). The Hidden Practice of Utilizing Bonds to Cover Legal Financial Obligations. Federal Sentencing Reporter34(2-3): 119–127. doi: 10.1525/fsr.2022.34.2-3.119