Bail Bonds Basics

Bondsman MargieHow Bail Bonds Work

What you need to know if you need a bail bond

If somebody you care about has been arrested, they could be stuck in jail for days, weeks or even longer. Posting bail is a fast, easy way to get them released, so they can await their court date surrounded by friends and family instead of bars. A bail bondsman is a person who is licensed to go to a jail to secure your loved one’s release with a bond.

Having a loved one in jail can be one of the hardest things you may ever have to deal with. However, if you are willing to learn about the bail bond process, you can make sure the situation you find yourself in now, has a good outcome.

What is a Bail Bond

A bail bond is a paper document that is recognized by our courts as a kind of a “promisary note” worth a certain amount of money. It is basically a contract that says: I guarantee the defendant will appear in court whenever a judge requires, on a specific date and time, or the bondsman will get the defendant back in court or will cover the entire amount of his bail.

Your Responsibility If You Bail Someone Out

The promise of a defendant’s return to court is too risky for a bail bondsman to make alone, and that’s where you come in. When using a bail bondsman, you agree to sign a contract that says you will also be responsible in making sure that the defendant makes required court dates, and that help find the defendant if he fails to appear in court.

Bail Costs

Bail Bondsmen in California charge a fee that is 10% of the entire bail amount to take on this risk. For example, if the bail is $10,000 the fee is $1,000. If the entire bail amount is $100,000 the fee is $10,000. As you can see, the bigger the bail amount is, the more risk is attached to it. This cost-of-service fee, which is also called a “premium” is nonrefundable.

Quailifying for a Bail Bond – The Approval Process

When you call a bail company, the bondsman will assess the risk involved in the bond. Bondsmen consider the character of the signer, making a judgment based on experience. Bondsmen often ask personal questions such as employment and how long on the job. How’s your good credit? Are you homeowners? U.S. citizens? And so on. The bondsman is not being a busy body. It’s questions like these that help determine whether or not the signer is the kind of stable, trustworthy person the bondsman is willing to partner with and write a bond for.

Failure to Appear In Court

If the defendant misses court, the bond goes into what is called “forfeiture”. That’s kind of like having a check that bounced and now needs to be covered. And it’s the bail bondsman and the co-signer who must do so, by getting the defendant back into court or paying the full bail amount to the court.

Bail Exoneration

When a defendant keeps his court dates, the bond is “exonerated” or completed. If collateral was used to secure the bond, the bondsman will then return all of the Indemnitor’s money and/or property that he used to back the bond, except for his 10% cost-of-service fee.

As you can see, using a bail bondsman to post a defendant’s bail is a much better option than trying to come up with that money all by yourself. A good, reliable bail bondsman will be able to explain the bail bond process to you in addition to posting the bond.

More California Bail Resources