To start, we need to ask what is Bail Bonding?
Bail is a specific amount of money that insurance companies, bondsman and the person in jail use as a form of surety to get a defendant released. Often times courts will issue a no Personal Recognizance (PR) bond or set the bond amount at too high of an amount for the defendant to pay thus having to utilize a bondsman.
What types of bail bonds are there?
Well on top of the PR bond discussed in the previous section there are two main types of bail bonds through a bondsman…
- Criminal Bail Bond: used in criminal cases and guarantees that a defendant appear for trial when called upon by the court and guarantees payment for any fines or penalties that are decided against the defendant.
- Civil Bail Bond: used in civil cases and guarantee the payment of the debt, plus interest and costs, assessed against the defendant.
How does this all come together?
A judge sees you on the day or day or two after your arrest. If its a bondable offense or no extraditable charges, the judge will set a bond amount. If it’s a PR bond you have the option to pay for your release out of your own accounts or you can utilize a bondsman if you cant afford the bond amount or its not a PR bond.
To post a bond the defendant will typically have to pay a minimum percentage or amount on the bond. Anywhere in the range of 10-15% on average. This provides a starting form of collateral for the bondsman to trust you will arrive to your court date when it is scheduled. They will then secure the rest of the collateral amount either through homes or some item that can be proven to equal out to the amount of the bonds. If the defendant did not have a co-signer or a home to use as collateral. If neither can be acquired often times a bondsman will utilize a GPS monitor as a form of collateral.
Next, the bondsman will compile the paperwork and post the bond either at the court house or the jail. Then you wait for release and go about your life until your court date.
- If defendant fails to appear in court: The Bail Bond is forfeited and the court requires the remaining 90% of the bail to be paid. The Bail Bondsman will use the defendant’s collateral (house, jewelry, stocks, etc) to pay the court the remaining bail amount.
- If a defendant does appear for court: Upon conclusion of the court case, the Bail Bond is dissolved and the collateral is returned to the person who posted it. The Bail bondsman keeps the 10% cash fee as profit.
What are the risks?
Writing bonds is extremely risky. There is typically a fair amount of money involved so finding a good surety company can be difficult. If the defendent fails to appear in court the surety bond company is liable for the full bond penalty, of which they will seek out compensation from the defendent in order to recover the lost amounts. This can include taking possession of homes and other goods deemed valuable enough to pay back the debt.
Remember harboring a fugitive is a third-degree felony and can be enforced by up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine in some states. If you know someone who is harboring a fugitive, call 911.