Bond forfeiture and exoneration are two different things. When a bond is forfeited it means that the person did not appear at the scheduled court hearing. The judge will often give the bail bondsman a certain amount of days to bring the individual back to jail before actually forfeiting the bond. Once a bond has been forfeited it, it cannot be returned and the bail bondsman will be required to pay the entire amount of the bond to the court. If this occurs, the bail bondsman will then go to the co-signer who will have to repay the bail bonds service the total amount of the bond plus any fees that are still due and owing.
A bond that is exonerated is one that has been released by the court. In order for the bond to be released, the defendant has complied with all of the court's requirements and attended all of their scheduled court hearings. When the court has been satisfied, the defendant's bond will be released back to the co-signer who originally hired the bail bondsman. If only the premium was paid, it will be released to the bail bondsman as payment for their services. Anything over and above the premium will be returned to the co-signer, minus any court costs, fees and restitution.