An article in today’s NYT on the uniqueness of the United States commercial bail bond system includes this very interesting tidbit.
Commercial bail bond companies dominate the pretrial release systems of only two nations, the United States and the Philippines.
Although the article does not actually say, I think it is safe to assume that this is a direct result of the fact that the Philippine legal system was constructed during the period of US colonial rule. Those non-American readers who may be unfamiliar with the commercial bail bond system may with to read the explanation in the NYT article to fully appreciate the global oddity of the system. From my brief perusal of some Philippine web pages, it certainly looks like both countries share the institution. For example, look at this page from a Manila metro area attorney’s office:
You can pay the full amount of the bail in Cash. If you are acquitted, you can withdraw the Bail that you posted. You can also buy a surety bind or post your property to pay for your bail.
Bail bond is like a check held in reserve: it represents the person’s promise that he or she will appear in court when required to. The bail bond is purchased by payment of a non-refundable premium (usually about 15% – 35% of the face amount of the bond).
A bail bond may sound like a good deal, but buying a surety bond may cost more in the long run. This is so because you have to renew the surety bond upon its expiration otherwise, upon motion of the prosecution, a warrant of arrest will be issued for failure to renew the surety bond. If the full amount of the bail is paid, it will be refunded (less a small administrative fee) when the case is over and all required appearances have been made. On the other hand, the 15%-35 premium is nonrefundable. In addition, the bond seller may require “collateral.” This means that the person who pays for the bail bond must also give the bond seller a financial interest in some of the person’s valuable property. The bond seller can cash in on this interest if the suspect fails to appear in court.
The curious may also want to see the amounts of bail set for various crimes under Republic of the Philippines law.