BAIL BOND: Definition And How It Works

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A bail bond is just like a surety bond. Instead of the defendant paying the bail himself, the bondsman pays it on his behalf. Now, if this is the case, how will the bail bondsman make his money? This and more questions about how bail bond agencies work will be answered in this post.

What is a Bail Bond?

A bail bond is a court payment made on behalf of a criminal defendant by a bail bond company. As a result, it is a sort of surety bond.

Bail is the sum of money that a defendant must post in order to be released from county jail prior to his or her trial. The defendant’s bail will be reimbursed if he or she posts bail and then appears at all mandatory court appearances and complies with the terms of his or her release. If the defendant fails to appear in court on a scheduled date, the full bond sum is forfeited.

Bail bonds allow defendants to post bail when their financial condition makes it impossible for them to do so on their own.

How Does A Bail Bond Work?

Bail bonds work by allowing a defendant to post bail that they would not have been able to afford otherwise. The bail bondsman posts the full amount on behalf of the defendant. The defendant pays the bail bondsman a percentage of the bail amount, which is typically 10%. This fee is non-refundable. Typically, the bondsman secures the bond with collateral.

The Bail Bond Process

Following the setting of bail by the judge, the defendant may contact a bail bondsman. The bondsman, also known as a bail bond agent, will request a percentage of the money from the defendant or a loved one. The standard rate is 10%. The release process will begin after the bondsman receives this cash. The remainder of the bail amount is frequently secured with collateral by the bond agent. If the offender fails to appear on bail, they must sign a contract agreeing to forfeit their property to cover the remaining bail sum.

If the defendant does not have enough property to secure the bond, the bail bond agent may seek collateral from friends or family members.

After receiving the fee and being satisfied with the collateral, the bondsman will post bail on the defendant’s behalf.

If the defendant cannot afford the amount, many certified bail bond agencies provide payment plans and a variety of payment choices. Credit cards, debit cards, and cash bail money are examples of this. 

A person charged with a crime is usually granted a bail hearing in front of a judge. The amount of bail is at the discretion of the judge. If the defendant is accused of a violent crime or appears to be a flight risk, a court may deny bail entirely or set it at an exorbitant amount.

Bail amounts are normally established by judges with broad discretion, and average amounts vary by jurisdiction. Bail could be set at $500 for a defendant charged with a nonviolent misdemeanor. Felony charges carry hefty bail, with $20,000 or more not uncommon.

The Disadvantages of the Bail Bond System

The bail bond system has become a component of the greater debate in the United States about mass incarceration, particularly of young African-American men.

Many people, including many in the legal profession, believe that the bail bond system is discriminatory since it compels low-income defendants to stay in jail or come up with a 10% cash fee and the rest of the bail-in collateral—even before they stand trial for any crime. According to, over 536,000 people are being held in jails in the United States because they cannot afford bail or the services of a bail bondsman.

Illinois, Kentucky, Oregon, and Wisconsin have all banned bail bondsmen and instead demand a 10% deposit on the bail amount to be lodged with the court. California chose to eliminate cash bail restrictions from its court system in 2018.

How Do Bail Bond Agencies Work?

Bail bond agencies assist individuals charged with criminal offenses in living legally outside of jail while awaiting trial. State laws govern bail bond agencies, and the rules can be rather complicated. Entrepreneurs considering entering this industry should be aware that there is a significant trend among activist and legal groups to fight for the abolition or reduction of cash bail requirements in the court system, which might make bail bond agencies obsolete.

What Is the Purpose of Bail Bond Agencies?

In many circumstances, the accused is unable to pay the entire bail fee. If she is unable to obtain money from family and friends, she can seek assistance from a bail bond agency. The bail bond agency sells the accused a bail bond. This bail bond will work as an assurance that the accused will appear in court when summoned. Bail bondsmen are people who own a bail bond agency.

The cost of a jail bond is usually a proportion of the bail amount. State regulations may limit this amount, although it is often roughly 10% of the total bail. Furthermore, the bail bond company may demand that the accused secure the bond with collateral. This collateral can be the deed to a house, a car, jewelry, or other assets. The accused’s friend or family member may agree to put up collateral to secure the bond. The bail bond company then sends a representative to the court to pay a portion of the bail and guarantee payment of the remainder if the accused fails to appear when necessary.

What Does A Bail Bondsman Do?

Bail bondsmen, also known as bail bond agents, work by providing written agreements to criminal courts promising to pay the full amount of bail if defendants whose appearances they guarantee fail to appear on their trial dates.

Bail bondsmen typically charge 10% of the bail amount upfront for their services, with additional fees possible. Some states have put a cap of 8 percent on the amount charged.

The agent may also require a statement of creditworthiness or may demand that the defendant turn over collateral in the form of property or securities. Bail bondsmen generally accept most property of value, including cars, jewelry, and houses, as well as stocks and bonds.

The defendant is released until trial if the bail or bail bond is delivered.

How Does a Bail Bondsman Make Money?

The cost of a bond is how a bail bondsman makes money. The percentage paid by the client is not refunded to him; rather, it is collected as the bond’s charge. As a result, several legal professionals advise clients to avoid employing bond services wherever possible. Lawyers will occasionally try to work with courts to reduce the amount of bail so that the accused and his family are not compelled to pay what can be a substantial sum of money that they will never be able to recoup.

Here are some of the ways you can make money as a bail bondsman:

#1. Removing money from the top

This is the primary source of revenue for existing bail bond companies. There is an additional cost for each transaction. Typically, the cost is computed as a percentage of the initial charge and is typically between 10-15%. However, this may vary depending on the initial amount and level of risk that you accept.

#2. Profit from repossession

If the defendant fails to appear in court on their scheduled day, the bail bondsman must still pay the whole bond to the court. To reclaim part of these lost monies, the bondsman business should have a collateral arrangement in place. If the defendant fails to appear in court, the collateral is now yours. This could be money, physical goods, or a vehicle.

With this additional guarantee in place, you can lawfully take possession of the item or property and keep, sell, or swap it. A bail bondsman can make a lot of money doing this. Just make sure that the possessed item(s) first pay the cost of the bond that you paid out of pocket, and you’ll be running at a profit rather than a loss.

#3. Make certain that you are adequately protected.

As a successful bondsman, you must ensure that you meet all legal requirements and that strong binding agreements are in place before taking on customers. You’ll have better peace of mind if the defendant fails to appear in court. As a bail bondsman, you will not be successful or make money if you do not have these agreements in place and agreed upon.

Along with that, meeting with the client is a good way to keep them accountable. You can keep track of where they are and how they are doing while they wait for a court date. In some higher-risk cases, this can be weekly, but otherwise, it may be monthly.

How Do You Get a Job as a Bail Bondsman?

The process of becoming a bail bondsman varies by state, but it often includes completing an approved training program, passing a background check, and obtaining a surety bond. As a condition of license renewal, many states require licensed bail bond agents to take continuing education courses. State regulations may require the business itself to go through a second corporate licensing process in addition to an individual agent license.

Other Services Provided By Bail Bond Agencies

Some bail bond agencies provide services other than bonding out people accused of crimes. Process serving, or hand delivering court documents to defendants in civil cases, is a common service, as is private investigation. Both trades frequently overlap with bail bondsmen, who may need to seek down clients who have failed to appear in court.

It should be noted that because states regulate both process servers and private investigators, individuals who provide either or both services may need to obtain a separate professional license for each trade. Bail bond companies should research the law in their respective states to determine what kind of licensing requirements they will need to meet. Separate licenses may necessitate additional fees, training programs, and surety guarantees.

What happens if The Defendant Fails To Appear In Court?

Defendants who obtain a bail bond and then fail to appear in court forfeit their bail and owe the bondsman the full amount of bail. The bond agency will also attempt to assert its claim to the collateral that secured the bail bond.

Bail bondsmen will frequently go out of their way to make sure the defendant comes to court before bail is lost. They may even visit defendants on the day of their court appearance. They may attempt to transport the defendant to court physically.

If the offender fails to appear in court, an arrest warrant will most likely be issued. The warrant will be served the next time law enforcement sees the defendant. If the underlying violation was a misdemeanor, such as a first-time DUI charge, police would rarely seek out the defendant to serve the warrant. If the offense was more serious, they would actively seek the defendant.

Is bond the same as bail?

To get out of jail while your case is pending, you must post bail, which is the amount determined by the judge. By signing a bond with a bondsman or bonding company, you pledge money and swear to comply with the court’s conditions and to appear in court for your trial.

Do bail bonds lose money?

No matter how much bail you post, the court will keep it if you fail to appear in court. If you don’t abscond and show up to all your court dates, you should get your bail money back, less any fees the court may assess.

How does bail bond work in New York?

Prices for bail bonds are capped by state law in New York. Limits on how much can be charged for insurance are established by law and are usually non-negotiable. Ten percent of the bond’s face value would be a fair amount to use as collateral. The defendant will be released from jail once the bail bond has been submitted to the court and approved.

In Conclusion,

A bail bond helps defendants who are unlikely to afford bail to get one. Instead of paying the bail themselves, a bail bondsman pays the bail on their behalf. In turn, the bail bondsman receives 10% of the bail.

Bail Bond FAQs

How does a bail bond work in USA?

In the USA, bail bonds work by allowing a defendant to post bail that they would not have been able to afford otherwise.

How long do you stay in jail if you don't make bail?

If you don’t make bail, you will most likely spend a month or two in jail before your court date.

What happens to bail money?

The bail money is held by the court until the case is settled. If the arrested prisoner arrives in court on the specified dates, the bail money will be returned to the person who paid it.

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