How Does A Bondsman Keep Clients From Skipping Out On Bail?
That said, 5% or not, there is always a concern that someone might skip bail, so here is what happens if someone fails to appear.
For example, Randy Quaid and wife Evi continue to make news about their intentions to evade court, the cost to the bondsman and now the Quaids suing the underwriter.
Having Bail Money Just Isn’t Enough
When it comes to writing bail bonds, it’s all about managing risk and many people are surprised there are times when a company will turn a client away.
There have been many cases where a friend or family member will call a bondsman saying they have cash in hand and are ready to sign whatever paperwork is needed.
At this point, the bondsman will start to assess the risk and determine how likely it is the defendant will take care of their legal responsibilities.
But sometimes, when the bondsman gets more information about the defendant, their job situation and the nature of the charges, the bond becomes less and less appealing.
A defendant who is couch surfing, unemployed, not in contact with their family and only carries a pre-paid cell phone is a much different risk than someone who has a job, has lived in the area for a period of time and has a steady routine.
If the person in custody isn’t working, is sleeping at a different house every night and has no real ties to the community, there’s a better than average chance that the bondsman will politely decline to help.
There are also certain charges that people in the bail bond industry consider to be a red flag, and at times a bond is shot down based on what the defendant was arrested for. Why? The overall risk is too great and the potential for the situation becoming a great big headache is very real.
The Importance Of The Client Interview Process
The questions that are asked during the bail interview process essentially allow a bail agent to evaluate the liability and the risk associated with the bond — how likely it is this person will go to court and take responsibility for the case.
If all indications point to responsible parties, the bail company will arrange the paperwork and help clients with the next steps.
If the situation seems a little shaky, they may ask for property collateral or for a cosigner that has good credit if the client wants to move forward. This way, if the defendant falls completely off the grid and the company does wind up needing to pay the forfeiture, there is a solid individual to cover the bond cost.
Suffice to say, if the bond seems to be very high risk and the signer doesn’t have any collateral, there’s a good chance the bond won’t be approved.
Who Are You And Who Do You Know?
A bondsman will ask for some basic information. The bondsman will also need to verify that who people are, which is why they look for a state-issued identification card.
Some agents will take this one step further and ask for a social security card, a recent utility or mortgage bill to confirm residence, and in some cases, a recent paystub as proof of employment.
If the bond is considered to be high-risk or if the client is looking for a bail bond payment plan, the
bondsman may ask to run credit. Generally, credit on a bail bond will not affect a credit score.
Bail companies will also ask for a list of references. This way, if the defendant misses court and the bondsman can’t reach them, there will be a second and third line of communication in terms of people who might know where they are.
Check-Ins And GPS Tracking Devices
Lastly, there are some bail agencies that will require clients come in for regular check-ins while their case is still pending.
There is a method to that madness: if someone misses their check-in there’s a decent chance they’re going to skip court.
This helps the bondsman evaluate whether they want to continue to work with the defendant or if they want to revoke the bond and return them to jail.
Sometimes, companies may even require certain defendants to wear a GPS tracking device in order to know their real-time whereabouts.
These types of requirements will vary from company to company. Some always require it, others only ask for check-ins and GPS tracking on for certain defendants and others still may not require it at all. It all depends on who you work with and their level of comfort with the defendant and the cosigner.
Stuck In Traffic or The Dog Ate My iPhone
Face it, life happens and people miss appointments. There are a couple of things that happen when a defendant skips out on court. First, the judge revoking bail and issues a bench warrant for arrest.
This means the defendant could be arrested on any day, at any time, for any reason.So when the best intended defendant gets held up and misses a court appearance, they’ll want to contact their bondsman and/or the court as soon as possible.
The bondsman will provide them with a “Reassumption of Liability“ and they will need to bring this to the court in order to get the warrant lifted and the appearance date rescheduled.
What Happens If Someone Skips Bail On Purpose?
Defendants who skip court because they’re trying to evade prosecution are quite a different story.
In the state of California, the courts give bail bond companies up to six months to find this person and get them back into the court system.
Sometimes this is just a matter of making a few calls, contacting the defendant’s friends and family and having the cosigners nudge this person into the courthouse.
If that fails, this is when a bounty hunter might be called. Back in 2003, fugitive Andrew Luster put Dog the Bounty Hunter on the forefront of American reality television.
Bounty hunters aren’t cheap and the people who cosigned for the defendant’s bond will ultimately be responsible for covering that cost. Those fees can get very expensive, very fast.
If the bounty hunter finds the defendant, he or she will cart that person back to jail. If the bounty hunter can’t locate the skip, the bondsman will need to write a check to the court for the defendant’s full bail amount – and they’ll go after the cosigner to recover that loss.
This fee is called a forfeiture and suffice to say that no one ever wants to have to pay it — especially considering the average California bail amount spans somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000.
All in all, if you do find yourself in a position where you’ve been asked to get someone out of jail, you’ll want to be fully aware of what you’re getting into and the responsibilities you’ll take on when you cosign for the defendant.
If the person in custody is someone you just met, barely know or haven’t heard from in months- buyer beware. Not only is this a bad risk for you, you’re bound to have a hard time finding a bondsman who wants to take that leap with you.