How Do Bail Bonds Work?

Bondsman MargieHow Bail Bonds Work

When someone is arrested, he or she will contact a bail bondsman directly or may call a friend or relative, who may call a bondsman. While it’s possible to obtain bail without a bondsman, it is not very common for friends or family members to post the bail themselves, as it is usually set at a very high price (in excess or $10,000 and on up to over $1 million). Whoever contacts the bail bondsman should be able to provide all available information, such as the name of the jail, the type of crime said to have been committed, defendant’s name and date of birth, and the amount of the bond.

A professional bondsman will explain the different options for paying for the bail bond and release from jail, how bail bonds work and answer other questions you may have. Once the co-signer fully understands the process, the bail bondsman will decide if they can or cannot take on the case.

If the circumstances are right (meaning the bondsman is willing to accept the risk involved in the case and the co-signer has the ability to pay), the bond will move forward. A bail contract will be drawn up and signed. This contract signifies that the defendant will show up to court as required and that the signer is responsible for this.

In exchange for accepting the risk of the defendant returning to court, the bail bondsman will require a fee to be paid to use their service. Generally, in most states, including California, this percentage is 10%. Once this is paid, the bondsman will go to the jail and post the defendants bail in the form of a paper bond. Once the paperwork is processed, the defendant will be released technically into the custody of the bondsman. However, the defendant is free to return to home, work and regular activities so long as court appearances are made.

If the defendant misses their scheduled court date, the bondsman has six months to return the defendant to court. The bail contract co-signer is equally responsible to make certain that this happens. If necessary, the bondsman may also hire a bail recover agent (aka “bounty hunter”) to retrieve the defendant and bring them to jail.  If the defendant cannot be located, the bondsman has to pay the company for the amount of the bond. The bondsman can then collect the bond funds from the cosigner or defendant.  However, a “skip” is very rare as is a forfeiture (actually needing to pay the court). In fact, nationwide statistically 98% go to court as agreed.

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