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 the accused person to release him on bail. The bail bondsman takes money (called bail 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.
Before we explain what is bail bondsman and bail bond agent? How do bail bonds work? It is important to explain what is the bail bond?
What is a Bail Bond & What is a Bail Bondsman?
A bail bond is a written promise signed by the defendant/ accused or his surety to pay a certain fixed amount to the court if the defendant fails to appear before the court at a fixed date. This bail bond method is used to release the defendant/accused awaiting 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 a fixed amount determined by the court if the defendant does not return on a fixed time and date.
History of Bail Bond System
The root of the bail bond system can be traced back to common law in England. In the 13th-century posting money or property is used in exchange for the release of accused pending trial.
But modern bail bond practice flourished exclusively in the United States and the Philippines. In other countries of the world, the practice of commercial bail bond and bounty hunting is illegal. In the U.S., the first bail bond business was established in 1898 in San Francisco.
Law on Bail Bonds in the United States
The law relating to bail bonds 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 contract with officials of the local court. In that agreement, they agree to post an irrevocable bond on behalf of the defendant/accused toward the 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, the bondsman is able to deposit cash or property with the court even during the off timings of these financial institutions.
How Does Bail Bond Work?
Many users ask how does bail works? They must know that when a person gets, arrested and booked for a serious crime they must wait in jail until a 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 a better option.
Hire bail bond agent. When contacting the bail agent, he will ask for certain information. Give him as much information as possible so that he can arrange bail money.
What information Bail Bond Agent Requires
- The full name of the accused person
- Jail location
- Booking number and,
Most Bail agents are on call 24/7 a week and will likely answer the phone regardless of the time of the day. If you are near the jail the bail agent will usually meet you there to post a bail bond. But in cases, they are willing to come to your home if you are not in the same city. As the defendant’s paperwork in payments can be handled electronically or over the phone.
How does bail bondsmen make money? 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 the location of the arrest. If you have a five thousand dollars’ bond then the bail agent will charge you a 15% premium, you will have to pay a $750-dollar fee to the bondsman.
You will not get this money back, the bail agent can also ask you to sign over the collateral property like a house, car, or jewelry. That will helps as a guarantee the defendant will show up for the court.
The bail agent (such as Aladdin bail bonds) 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 the 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 be 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 the 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 dates 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 bonds work. There is another category of bail bondsman known as a bounty hunter.
What Bounty Hunters Do?
Bail agents are authorized by contractual arrangements to arrest the 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 fugitives and criminals for a pecuniary reward called a bounty. This profession is also known as a bail enforcement agent, recovery agent, bail recovery agent, or fugitive recovery agent.
Today, some U.S states like North Carolina have 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 the Different States of U.S.
First, keep in mind that there is a difference between bond and bail. Bond as already explained is a surety whereas bail is a process of the court to release the accused. So the price of bail bonds is another thing.
The fee on bail bond taken by the bondsman is not the same in all of the US, rather, it varies in states. Like in Florida minimum of $100 dollar is charged in all bail bonds 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, mileage, etc.
In Connecticut, the cost of the bail bond is regularized by the Connecticut insurance department which includes a 35% down payment.
Types of Bail Bond in the United States
Currently, in the 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 has great opportunities to start as a career. There are a variety of bail bonds in the US that can facilitate pre-trial releases such as federal bonds, surety bonds, and immigration bonds.
It is issued to the defendant/accused charged with federal offense/crimes. Unlike usual bonds, federal bail bonds not only give a guarantee of the defendant’s presence in court on a 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 a 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 a higher fee like 5% more than normal rates. An immigration bond is a type of federal bond that is required to secure the release of the 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.
How To Become a Bail Bondsman – Job Dircription
Most bail bondsman jobs include issuing bonds to clients in return for a percentage of the bail amount. The duties of a bail bond agent job include bond assessment, paperwork, agency communication, and apprehension.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide specific information on bondsmen business. The predicted number is that employment within this career will increase by about 10% between 2014 to 2024. Another report is that the bail bondsman salary among bail bonding agents was $32,000 as of January 2016.