The term bond attorney can be used to refer to a lawyer who specializes in several different areas of law. Most commonly, the term is used to describe an attorney who has been hired to render a legal opinion during a municipal bond offering. In some jurisdictions, a bond attorney refers to a lawyer who assists a prospective homeowner in securing a bond or home loan. In criminal cases, an attorney with knowledge about bond reduction motions may assist a defendant with reducing his or her bail bond.
During a municipal bond offer proceeding, a local government entity, like a city, school district, or county, usually issues municipal bonds to investors. Revenue generated from the bonds is frequently used for funding capital projects or for temporarily covering operating and maintenance costs. As a general rule, any interest income received on municipal bonds is exempt from federal income tax and state income tax for the state in which the bonds were issued. Municipal bonds are primarily used in the United States or its territories, such as Puerto Rico.
At some stage in the bond proceeding, a municipal bond attorney usually provides a legal opinion with regard to the bond issuance. Typically, the opinion details the terms of the offering and declares that the bond being issued is valid and legally binding on the parties. The bond attorney also helps ensure that the bond has been structured so that interest income will be exempt from federal or state income taxes in accordance with applicable law. The bond attorney’s opinion is typically referred to as an “unqualified opinion.” Some municipal bonds, referred to as ex-legal bonds, are issued without a legal opinion.
In some countries, bond attorneys assist homebuyers with securing bonds or loans for purchasing a house. In South Africa, for example, a bond attorney prepares home loan documentation and then reviews it with the homebuyer. Usually, the attorney is also responsible for preparing and issuing any related guarantees as well as for preparing documents for filing with the deeds office.
A criminal law bond attorney can work with a criminal defendant to reduce bonds, which are instruments used to bail a defendant out of jail while he or she awaits trial. In many jurisdictions, bonds can be issued for cash or cash equivalents. For example, cash may be put up through a bonding company or a home may be used as collateral for the bond. If a defendant is unable to afford the cost of the bond, an attorney can bring a motion asking the court to lower the bond amount. Generally, the intent of the motion is to make the bail amount more affordable for the defendant.