A plaintiff (the person suing) who wins in a civil trial obtains a judgment against the defendant (the person being sued). In federal courts and most state courts, the defendant has a right to appeal the judgment. In most jurisdictions, it is necessary to give a bond when appealing to guarantee the payment of the costs of the appeal. In order to stay or stop the execution of the judgment against the defendant pending the appeal, the defendant also is required to pay a supersedeas or appeal bond. The supersedeas bond is a guarantee that the defendant will pay the judgment if the appeal is unsuccessful. In some states, the amount of the bond is set by law and can be as much as one and one-half times the amount of the judgment. The goal is to protect the plaintiff from the possibility that the defendant might become insolvent while the appeal is pending.

Sureties on Appeal Bonds

A surety or guarantor on an appeal bond is the insurer issuing the bond. The defendant is the principal (also called the obligor) on the bond, and the plaintiff is the obligee (the person protected by the bond). The plaintiff can recover the amount of the appeal bond from the surety. However, the surety's liability is limited to the amount stated in the bond. The defendant remains liable for the entire amount of the judgment.

Appeal Bonds in Criminal Cases

In some situations, the filing of an appeal by a criminal defendant automatically stays or stops the execution of a criminal sentence. In other cases, the court has discretion to grant a stay of the execution of a sentence imposed in a criminal case. If a stay is granted, the court may require the criminal defendant to file a supersedeas or appeal bond. The defendant is then released from jail while the appeal is pending.

Conditions of Appeal Bonds in Criminal Cases

Generally, if a criminal defendant is released from jail pending appeal, the appeal bond contains various conditions. For example, the bond might require the criminal defendant to remain within the geographical jurisdiction of the appellate court unless the court gives the defendant written permission to leave the area. The appeal bond also requires the defendant to surrender to the court if the conviction is upheld on appeal.

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