For many criminal defendants, a common source of bail funds is their own family or friends. Such individuals typically assist in the expectation that if the defendant complies with court orders and satisfies all court appearances, their money will be returned to them. In revenue-motivated court systems, however, bail funds--even when owned by a third party--are often applied to the defendant's fines and court costs, resulting in the effective forfeiture of the friend or relative's money. This Article reviews the processes of third-party bonds, the risk that a third-party bond will be incorrectly identified as the defendant's asset, and the third party's rights regarding the ultimate disposition of the funds and other competing claims on the bail. It calls attention to a little-considered issue in current calls for bail reform and criminal justice reform generally--one that affects not only defendants, but also their families and support systems. The use of third-party funds to pay fines and fees is unfair to friends and relatives who, in their haste to collect bond for the defendant and perhaps with little knowledge of the criminal justice system, may not understand the full extent of their financial risk. It also produces a breakdown of justice in that a third party's payment of a fine fails to accomplish the goal of monetary penalties in the criminal justice system.
The Inequity of Third-Party Bail Practices,
Loy. U. Chi. L. J.
Available at: https://lawecommons.luc.edu/luclj/vol53/iss2/7