Bail Bonds: A Beginner’s Guide

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Arrested man with handcuffs on his handsIf someone should ever find themselves in need of bail, they may discover that the process can get quite confusing. There are many aspects of the bail process that should be fully understood before someone sets out to find a bail bonds agent. Here is a quick guide to bail bonds for beginners.

What is bail?

When a person is charged with a crime, there may be the option of awaiting trial at home rather than in jail. This option is at the discretion of the judge and is based on many factors, including the severity of the crime and the flight risk of the defendant. If the judge decides that the person does not need to remain in jail, they will set a bail amount for their release. Bail is an amount of money that is paid to the court as a guarantee that the defendant will appear for their court date. If they appear, the money is returned. If the defendant does not appear for their court date, the money is not returned.

What does a bail bondsman do?

In some cases, the bail amount is set higher than the defendant can afford. In these instances, a bail bondsman can help post the bail so that the defendant may leave jail. A bail bondsman will agree to pay the court if there is a failure to appear.

How does the bail process work with a bail bondsman?

A bail bondsman will charge a percentage of the bail amount set by a judge. This money is non refundable, as it is payment for the service of bailing a defendant out of jail. Since the defendant is in jail before bail is paid, it is often a friend or relative who finds and pays the bail bondsman. If the defendant does not appear for court, then the bail bondsman is responsible for paying the court the full amount of the set bail. Therefore, bail bondsman often require some sort of collateral from the person posting bail to ensure that they can recover their losses if the defendant should flee. As long as the defendant appears, the bail bondsman keeps the fee and returns any rights to the collateral.

What happens if the defendant fails to appear?

In most cases, the bail bondsman will keep tabs on their clients by requiring then to check in, either by calling regularly or appearing in person. This reassures the bondsman that the defendant will appear in court. However, if the person skips bail, there are serious consequences. A warrant will be issued for the defendant’s arrest. Once caught, they may face stiffer penalties than they would have had they appeared when they were supposed to. Also, the bail bondsman would lose the bail amount to the court. They will then make the person who posted the bail, whether it was a friend or relative, responsible for paying them back. They will have to pay the full amount of the bail or lose their collateral.