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Bail Bonds & Bail Bondsman
Types of Bail
What is a “Premium”?
What is acceptable “Collateral”?
- What is the premium paid for a typical bail bond
A - Bail bond premiums schedule in most states is 10% or $100.00
whichever is greater.
Example: A 250.00 bond would cost $100.00 and a $2000.00 bond would cost a
premium of $200.00.
Q - What is Bail?
A - The term Bail is used in several distinct senses: (1) It may
mean the security-cash or bond-given for the appearance of the prisoner.
(2) It may mean the bondsman (i.e., the person who acts as surety for the
defendant's appearance, and into whose custody the defendant is released).
(3) As a verb, it may refer to the release of the defendant (he was bailed
out). The first meaning is the most common and should be employed for
Admission to bail is the order of a competent court that the defendant be
discharged from actual custody upon bail. The discharge on bail is
accomplished by the taking of bail (i.e., the acceptance by the court or
magistrate of security-either an undertaking or deposit-for the appearance
of the defendant before a court for some part of the criminal proceeding).
Bail is evidenced by a bond or recognizance, which ordinarily becomes a
record of the court. The bond is in the nature of a contract between the
state on one side and the defendant and his sureties on the other. The
agreement basically is that the state will release the defendant from
custody the sureties will undertake that the defendant will appear at a
specified time and place to answer the charge made against him. If the
defendant fails to appear, the sureties become the absolute debtor of the
state for the amount of the bond.
Q - When talking about bail, what do you mean by the term
A - An undertaking is a permissible type of bail security. The
taking of bail consists of a competent court accepting an undertaking of
sufficient security for the appearance of the defendant, according to the
terms, or the surety will pay a specified sum to the state. Corporate
sureties are commonly used, and the court will accept an admitted surety
insurer`s bail bond if executed by the insurer`s licensed bail agent and
issued in the insurer`s name by an authorized person.
Q - Must you always use a bail bondsman?
A - The defendant, or any other person, may deposit the amount of
the bond by way of cash only, at the jail the defendant is incarcerated.
Q - What is the purpose of bail?
A - The purpose of bail is to assure the attendance of the
defendant, when his or her presence is required in court, whether before
or after conviction. Bail is not a means of punishing a defendant, nor
should there be a suggestion of revenue to the government.
Q - Is bail a matter of right?
A - Although the right to bail has constitutional recognition in
the prohibition against excessive bail, bail is not always a matter of
right. However, with certain exceptions a defendant charged with a
criminal offense shall be released on bail. Persons charged with capital
crimes when the facts are evident or the presumption of guilt great, are
excepted from the right to release on bail. However, a defendant charged
with a capital crime is entitled to a bail hearing in the trial court to
determine whether the facts are evident or the presumption great. A crime
is a capital offense if the statute makes it potentially punishable by
death or life imprisonment, even if the prosecutor / government has agreed
not to seek the death penalty. It is presumed that the risk of flight of
the defendant is great when he or she is facing death or life in prison
without the possibility of parole.
Q - What is considered by the Court in fixing the amount of the
A - The amount of the bail is primarily within the discretion of
the judge or magistrate, with only two general limitations: First: The
purpose of bail is not to punish, but only to secure the appearance of the
defendant, and it should be fixed with that in mind. Second: Excessive
bail, not warranted by the circumstances. Is not only improper but a
violation of constitutional rights. In fixing the amount of the bail, the
court takes into consideration the seriousness of the charge, the
defendant's previous criminal record, and the probability of the defendant
appearing at the trial or hearing.
Additionally, if public safety is an issue, the court may make an inquiry
where it may consider allegations of injury to the victim, threats to the
victim or a witness, the use of a deadly weapon, and the defendant's use
or possession of controlled substances. A judge or magistrate setting bail
in other than a scheduled or usual amount must state on the record the
reasons and address the issue of threats made against a victim or a
witness. The court must also consider evidence offered by the detained
person regarding ties to the community and ability to post bond. The bail
amount set by the court must be the minimum amount of bail that would
reasonably assure the defendant's appearance. NOT the Maximum!
Q - Does the bail bond continue forever, can you get it back?
A - When the bail has served its purpose, the surety will be
exonerated (i.e., released from the obligation). Exoneration normally
occurs when the proceeding is terminated in some way or on the return of
the defendant to custody. After conviction, the defendant appears for
sentence. If sentenced to imprisonment the defendant is committed to the
custody of the sheriff, and the liability of the surety terminates.
Q - What if the defendant is sentenced to probation?
A - A defendant who is convicted and given probation is released
from custody, and the bail must be exonerated.
There are five release
options available: cash bond, surety bond, property bond, own recognizance
(O.R.), and citation release.
To be released on cash bail, someone must post with the court
the total amount of the bail, in cash. The purpose of this is to secure
his or her return to court on an appointed date, and thereafter until
the case is concluded. If the defendant shows up for his/her scheduled
court appearances, the cash is returned to him/her. If s/he fails to
appear, the cash bond is forfeited to the court.
An alternative to cash bail is the posting of a surety bond.
This process involves a contractual undertaking guaranteed by an
admitted insurance company having adequate assets to satisfy the face
value of the bond. The bail agent guarantees to the court that they will
pay the bond forfeiture if a defendant fails to appear for their
scheduled court appearances. The bail agent’s guarantee is made through
a surety company and/or by the pledge of property owned by the agent.
In rare cases an individual may obtain release from custody by
means of posting a property bond with the court. Here the court records
a lien on property, to secure the bail amount. If the arrestee
subsequently fails to appear at the scheduled court date, the court may
institute foreclosure proceedings against the property to obtain the
forfeited bail amount.
(O.R.) : Another method of release pending trial is through a
county or law enforcement administered pre-trial release program.
Usually, the staff members of these programs interview individuals in
custody and make recommendations to the court regarding release of these
individuals on their own recognizance (i.e., without any financial
security to insure the interviewee's return).
This procedure, known as the "Cite Out", involves the issuance
of a citation by the arresting officer to the arrestee, informing the
arrestee that he or she must appear at an appointed court date. The Cite
Out usually occurs immediately after an individual is arrested. Such an
arrestee’s appearance in court depends exclusively upon the integrity of
the arrestee and his or her voluntarily returning to court.
A forfeiture occurs if a
defendant fails to appear in court as scheduled. In this event, the bail
bonds company has approximately six months to “surrender” the defendant to
the court with no financial consequences. If this does not happen, the
bond is payable to the court by the Bail Bonds Company.
A “premium” is the amount
paid to a Bail bonds company for the many services and financial risks
assumed by the Bail Bonds Company, on behalf of the defendant., The amount
of this premium I usually 10% of the amount of the bail. This is similar
to payment of any premium for an insurance policy.
Are Bail Agents licensed
Yes, Bail Agents must
undergo a background check, pass an examination, and obtain a license from
the Department of Insurance in their State. To maintain the license,
agents must attend continuing education classes yearly.
How much does a Bail Agent
As per state law, a
bail agent charges the amount of the
What is a Bail Contract
and what are the main terms?
A Bail Contract spells out
the relationship and obligations of the defendant, the court, the bail
bonds company, the surety insurance company backing the bond, and the indemnitors
(co-signer/s) of the bond.
What is the duration of a
A bond is in
effect until the defendant completes his obligations to the court. This
usually means that it ends when the defendant appears in court when
scheduled and the case is concluded.
What does a bail agent do
for the consumer?
With his/her money on
the line, a bail agent has a financial interest in supervising bailees
and ensuring that they appear for trial. If a defendant "skips," the bail
agent has time and the financial incentive to find him/her and return
him/her back to the court or jail. Significantly, commercial bail bond agents profit only when
the defendant shows up for trial. At The Bail Bondsman .com, we also
an array of social service and community resources
to help the defendant and his family in numerous ways.
Collateral is usually
supplied by relatives and friends of the defendant (called an indemnitor/s) and provides added
financial security to ensure that the defendant appears in court when he
or she is supposed to. Collateral can be in the form of anything of
financial value that is legally pledged to back up the promise that the
defendant will appear on his or her appointed court date.
What happens if the
defendant fails to appear?
This is considered a “forfeiture”
Upon the breach of conditions of bond, the full amount of the bail money is due, a warrant for arrest of the defendant
is issued and the indemnitor/s of the bail bond can lose their collateral.
Additionally the defendant can also be charge federally and/or state for
unlawful flight to avoid prosecution (UFAP) a penalty of up to five years
in jail over and above any other charges pending.
Is the premium paid
No – the premium amount is
for the many service provided by the Bail Bonds Company to release the
defendant from jail and make sure he appears in court. The premium
is not refunded when the defendant appears in court –
even if the charges are dropped. Premium is considered earned when the
bond is posted and the defendant is released from the facility accepting
the bail bond.
When do I get my
Collateral is returned to
its owners immediately following the payment of all premiums and the
“exoneration” of the bond by the court. Typically this takes no more than
21 days from the moment the surety is given notice of bond discharge.
What does “exoneration”
A bond is “exonerated” when
the defendant appears in court as scheduled. An exoneration of bond
(discharge of the bail) is typically automatic upon adjudication of guilt
or innocence by the court. This means that neither the
people who supplied collateral or the Bail Bonds Company has any further
financial obligation to the court in reference to the defendant’s case.
What is a “misdemeanor
Misdemeanors are defined
basically as crimes that are punishable by up to one year in the county
jail such as petty theft and drunk driving.
What is a “felony” crime?
are crimes that are punishable by one year or more in a state prison.
Examples of felony crimes are rape, murder, drug possession and armed
What is a defendant?
The person arrested
and being accused of a crime, also
known as the principal in a bail bond application.
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