The Bail Bond Process

bail bond process
The bail bond process involves a bail bond. It is a written promise executed and signed by a defendant or someone who acts in his or her behalf, usually a bail bonds company, to pay the bail amount fixed by the court as guarantee that the defendant will appear in court for the trial.

Many defendants are financially incapable of posting bail on their own. For this reason, they seek help from bail companies who collect a non-refundable fee of 10 – 20% of the bail amount for the surety. The bail bond agent becomes liable to the court for the full amount of bail if the defendant does not appear in court on scheduled trial. To cover for this risk, the bail bond agent usually requires collateral from the suspect in the form of property, jewelry or written guarantee from a trustworthy friend or relative of the defendant.

Bail bond companies have the right to refuse to post bail especially if a defendant doesn’t have steady source of income, has the tendency to flee, or is unlikely to appear in court for trial.

Licensed bail bond agents can post bail on a suspect’s behalf because they are recognized by law. In fact, many of them have contractual agreements with the government, banks and credit agencies.

This is the chronology of events in the bail bond process:

1. Arrest

Someone gets arrested, doesn’t want to stay in jail but doesn’t have enough cash to pay the bail amount. This is where the bail bond process begins.

2. Processing

After the arrest, police takes the suspects to the local county jail for processing. This involves matching the alleged offense with the county’s bail schedule so that the bail amount can be set. A suspect who appears trustworthy and is able to convince the judge of his/her commitment to appear in court for trial may be released on their own recognizance. In this case, the suspect can walk freely out of jail without posting bail.

3. The Call

Once processing is finished and bail is set, a suspect makes a call either to a family member or a lawyer who in turn contacts a bail bondsman for you. You may also call a bail bonds agent directly if you want to.

4. Negotiation with the Bail bondsman

This stage involves a discussion by you or your representative and the bail bond agent. Here, you or your representative and the bail bond agent agree on certain terms regarding the latter’s role of posting bail on your behalf. This requires an agreement which you or your representative must sign. This will convince he bail bondsman to post bail in order for you to obtain temporary freedom.

Once your case is resolved, the bail bond company returns your collateral in full but it keeps the premium as compensation for their role. If you fail to appear on all court proceedings, the bail bonds company pays the bail amount and keeps your collateral and the premium you pay them.

This is how the bail bond processing is practiced by professional bail agents of the United States.

image credit: flickr.com


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