What Can We Learn From On Screen Bail Bondsmen?

When it comes to bail bondsmen, Hollywood often gets things very wrong. Most are entertaining at a minimum and that’s why everyone loves them!

The first film, however, seemed to get a few things right.

Movie: Jackie Brown

Bondsman: Max Cherry

Jackie Brown is the bail bondsman’s bail move! It’s how exciting we thought our lives would be as bondsmen!

Although significantly removed from How Bail Really Works, you’ve got shoot ‘em up, crazy bad guys who kill each other for no apparent reason (thank you Quentin Tarantino), on the run fugitives and a defendant who “didn’t do it”.

In the movie, Max Cherry (Robert Forester) is the bondsman turned accomplice and implicated love interest of the defendant when he helps the film’s heroine carry out of a jam and the both end up with a windfall.

This movie is a classic example of what not to believe. A professional bondsman would not hit on their clients nor would they agree to go into business with them. But who cares? Movies are about titillating us and entertaining us and you can’t miss when you add Robert Di Nero, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton, and Bridget Fonda.

Movie: One for the Money

Bondsman: Cousin Vinny
Bounty Hunter: Stephanie Plum

Most people assume the bail industry is being dominated by men who look like they just rolled out of a biker bar.

What people don’t realize is that more than 50 percent of licensed agents are women. In One for the Money the unemployed and newly-divorced Stephanie Plum, played by the gorgeous Kathrine Heigl who bought the rights to the film, finds herself in dire need of a job.

Next thing you know she’s working for her cousin’s bail bonds agency.

Sure, Plum is more of a bounty hunter, but it is the first movie that shows that women are not only work in the bail industry, they are an important part of it.

And, as we know, Hollywood confuses bondsmen and bounty hunters. The Stephanie Plum Series by Janet Evanovich has millions of followers drooling to know what Stephanie will do next.

TV Series: Once Upon A Time

Bondsman: Emma Swan

In the ABC series Once upon a Time, the show’s main character, Emma Swan, is not only the true daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, she’s also a bail bondsman.

That sounds like me! Not!

In the real world, Swan would not have been able to get a bail license because she served time in prison which means she was convicted on a felony offense.

When someone does want to become a bondsman they need to undergo an extensive background check; people who have been convicted of felony crimes are ineligible to receive a bail license.

Movie: The Bounty Hunter

Bounty Hunter: Milo Boyd
Bondsman: Sid

In The Bounty Hunter, Gerard Butler is cast to play Milo Boyd, a former NYPD detective who has left the force to work as a bounty hunter.

The bondsman needs him to re-arrest reporter Nicole Hurley (Jennifer Aniston), who also happens to be Boyd’s ex-wife. What could be more fun?

This bail company helped get Hurley out of jail after she was arrested for assaulting an officer but she never bothered to show up for court.

This movie is a lesson in jumping the gun. In real life, the bondsman would have made several attempts to contact the bail skip to say “hey, you missed your court date and you need to take care of this”. The bail recovery agent is called is after all other avenues have been exhausted.

So there you have it: Hollywood may do a great job when it comes to entertaining the masses but that’s not to say they don’t take a few liberties along the way.

Yes, movies about fictional bondsmen may be as fun as they are intriguing but viewers should take the big-screen portrayal of the bail bonds industry with the proverbial grain of salt.



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Updated:  09/29/2014