A bail bondsman or bail bond agent is a person, association of person or a company who act as a surety or pledger in respect of accused person to release him on bail. The bondsman take money or property as collateral security. Banks and insurance companies also give surety to their clients to indemnify them from unexpected loss. But bail bond agents give surety to criminal defendants, so to securing their release in a few hours.
Outline of Content
- What is Bail Bond?
- History of Bail Bond System
- Law on Bail Bonds in United States
- Bail Bondsman Make Strict Agreements With clients
- How Bail Bondsman’s Process Really Works
- What Bounty Hunters Do?
- Cost of Bail Bond in Different States of U.S.
- Bail Bond Agents Jobs
Before we explain what is bail bondsman and bail bond agent? It is important to explain what is bail bond?
What is Bail Bond?
A bail bond is written promise signed by the defendant/ accused or his surety to pay certain fixed amount to the court, if defendant fails to appear before the court at fixed date. This bail bond method is used to release the defendant/accused waiting trial charged with criminal offense from lawful custody.
In this process defendant’s family or friend or professional bail bond agent (often called bail agent) execute a document towards the court. In this document bail bond agent promises to forfeit fixed amount determined by the court if defendant does not return on fixed time and date.
History of Bail Bond System
The root of bail bond system can be traced back to common law in England. In 13th century posting money or property is used in exchanged for the release of accused pending trial.
But modern bail bond practice flourished exclusively in United States and Philippines. In other countries of the world, the practice of commercial bail bond and bounty hunting is illegal. In U.S., the first bail bond business was established in 1898 in San Francisco.
Law on Bail Bonds in United States
The law relating to bail bond is different in different states. Federal laws affect through Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which contains the Excessive Bail Clause and the Bail Reform Act of 1984.
Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 also control the practice of bail bond and lastly the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act is also relevant in this regard.
Bail Bondsman Make Strict Agreements With clients
Bond agents are also known as bond dealers. They have a strict security contracts with officials of local court. In that agreement, they agree to post irrevocable bond on behalf of defendant/accused toward court. On the other hand, these bond agents have agreements with insurance companies, banks and other credit provider institutions. Due to these agreements with banks, bondsman is able to deposit cash or property with the court even during the off timings of these financial institutions.
How Bail Bondsman’s Process Really Works
When a person gets, arrested and booked for serious crime they must wait in jail until bail hearing. At the bail hearing the judge will set the bail amount. If the person cannot afford bail they must wait in jail until their court date but there’s better option.
Hire bail bond agent. When contacting bail agent, he will ask for certain information. Give him as much information as possible.
What information Bail Bond Agent Requires
- The full name of the accused person
- Jail location
- Booking number and,
Most Bail agent are on call 24/7 a week and will likely answer the phone regardless at the time of the day. If you are near the jail the bail agent will usually meet you there to post bail bond. But in cases they be willing to come at your home if you are not in the same city. As the defendant’s all paperwork in payments can be handled electronically or over the phone.
The bail agent will typically charge between 10% to 15% of the total bail amount. This can be higher or lower depending on the circumstances like location of the arrest. If you have five thousand dollars’ bond then the bail agent will charge you a 15% premium, you will have to pay $750-dollar fee to the bondsman.
You will not get this money back, the bail agent can also ask you to sign over collateral property like house, car or jewelry. That will helps as guarantee the defendant will show up for the court.
The bail agent will post the bond once the premium has been paid and any collateral has been signed over. Then the defendant will be released from jail. The process of bailing someone out can take a short time or several hours depending on how crowded the jail is.
After defendant’s release, he must show up for all court proceedings and meet any condition set by the bail agent. If the defendant fails to appear in court the bail agent will required to pay the full bail amount, which in our example is five thousand dollars.
When it happens or when the defendant violates the bail conditions the bail bondsman will locate the defendant and take them back to jail. That’s where bounty hunter jumps in this process. If the defendant does not make their court date you could lose collateral that was signed over with the bail bond.
But as long as the defendant complies with the terms set by the bail agent and shows up for all court date you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. When the defendant is found innocent or guilty the bond is exonerated or completed once the trial is over.
That’s how bail bondsman does their work.
What Bounty Hunters Do?
Bail agent are authorized by contractual arrangements to arrest defendant and bring him to the jurisdiction. This process of arrest is carried out by the bounty hunters like dog bounty hunters do in American reality television.
Basically, bounty hunters capture fugitive and criminal for a pecuniary reward called bounty. This profession also known as bail enforcement agent, recovery agent, bail recovery agent, or fugitive recovery agent.
Today, some U.S states like North Carolina has banned the issue of licensing of bounty hunters. Due to this ban each bail bond agent will apprehend his own fugitive without hiring bounty hunters.
Cost of Bail Bond in Different States of U.S.
The fee on bail bond taken by the bondsman is not same in all of the US, rather, it varies in states. Like in Florida minimum $100 dollar are charged in all bail bond whether it’s a state charge or federal charge.
In North Carolina, a flat 15% is charged. Sometimes it also includes the bill of defendant incurred on phone calls, gas, millage etc.
In Connecticut, the cost of bail bond is regularized by the Connecticut insurance department which include 35 % down payment.
Types of Bail Bond in United States
Currently in US there are 15000 bail bondsmen working with an average $ 14 billion turnover per year. Although four states namely Illinois, Kentucky, Oregon, and Wisconsin have completely banned commercial bail bonding. Still this profession have great opportunities to start as a career. There are variety of bail bonds in US that can facilitate pre-trial release such as federal bonds, surety bonds and immigration bonds.
It is issued to the defendant/accused charged with federal offense/crimes. Unlike usual bond, federal bail bonds not only give guarantee of defendant’s presence in court on fixed date, but also impose pre-trial conditions to fulfill. Like regular drug testing, restriction on unnecessary travel. Due to risk, there are few bail bondsmen who issue this kind of bond. The fee is also high.
The bond most commonly used and known by the general public is surety bail bondsman. The state government is the licensing authority allows bail agent to give surety bonds to accused. In most states, surety bail bondsmen ask for a percentage in bail amount as the fee. This percentage can range from 10 to 20% depending on state laws. Again, a substantial amount of collateral security is needed to get this bond.
Fewer bondsmen are engaged in this type of bail business due to the added risk. That’s why they charge higher fee like 5% more than normal rates. Immigration bond is a type of federal bond that is required to secure release of accused from an immigration detention facility. In this scenario, bond recipients are usually in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a federal agency, but may be held in local or county jails.
Bail Bond Agents Jobs
Most bail bondsman jobs include issuing bonds to clients in return for a percentage of the bail amount. The duties in bail bond agent job includes bond assessment, paperwork, agency communication and apprehension.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide specific information bondsmen business. The predicted number are that, the employment within this career would increase by about 10% between 2014 to 2024. Another reported is that, the median salary among bail bonding agents was $32,000 as of January 2016.