How Bail Bonds Work


Bail involves a process in which a defendant is released in exchange for money. This money is a form or type of “insurance” that the defendant will show up for his or her court dates. The bail process exists because trials can take weeks, months, or even years to work their way through the court process. Bail allows a defendant the opportunity to continue daily activities such as work and being home with their family or loved ones while awaiting trial. It also allows the defendant the ability to meet with an attorney and establish a defense uninhibited by the confines of jail.

A person arrested for a crime is generally taken to a local law enforcement center or detention center where they are booked on their charges. This involves the recording of information on the alleged crime as well as obtaining information the suspect. The booking process usually involves the fingerprinting of the suspect as well as their photo taken. The suspects personal property is inventoried and secured and the booking process is completed. The suspect in most cases will be allowed a phone call at this time by the booking officer…if bail is allowed the suspect is at that time bondable.

On charges of a more serious nature the suspect may have to see a judge for a bail hearing. At the bail hearing the judge will determine if the suspect may be released on bail and determine the amount of the bail. This is all based on the suspect prior criminal history, the severity of the crime, the suspects ties to the local community and what type of flight risk they may be as well as many other determining factors therefore no two bonds are alike and the judge is the final authority in determining the bond amount. Once bond has been determined the bail agent is able to post a surety bond for the suspect. The surety bond is issued by the bail agent for the entire dollar amount of the bond and guarantees the accused will show up for all court dates. The bail agent will charge 10% of the bail fee plus any expenses and application fees for issuing the bond on the accused behalf. It should be noted none of these fees are refundable once the bond has been posted.

The bail agent may require collateral in the amount of the entire bond to secure the interests of the surety company. Your bond agent will discuss all this with you at the time. The bond agent may have conditions that the accused has to follow in addition to those issued by the court. Make sure you understand all those conditions clearly as failure to comply with any of the court conditions or the bail bondsman conditions can result in the revocation of your bond and you could be incarcerated by the bondsman or his agents and placed back in the detention facility. Make sure you clearly and fully understand you obligations. If you have questions just ask, remember the bond agent is here to help you but they also have an obligation to the court and the community.

Once the accused has gone through the entire court process and is either found innocent or guilty by the court at that time they have fulfilled their obligation to the court as well as the bondsman and the bond is exonerated and returned to the surety company. The process of the exonerated bond being returned to the surety company may vary from one jurisdiction to another but once returned the all collateral or liens that were held by the surety or his agents for the bond is returned and or released to their proper owners. Remember your 10 % fee as well as expenses and applications fees are not returnable or refundable.

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