How Does a Bail Bondsman Work?

Posted on Feb 13, 2019 in Criminal Defense

Getting someone out of jail can be an expensive affair. Most people don’t have thousands of dollars just sitting around, ready to fork over when a loved one has been arrested. In many cases, people turn to a bail bondsman to cover this expense.

But what does a bail bondsman do exactly? How do they work and should you use one? What are your options when trying to get someone out of jail?

If you’re like me, when I think about a bail bondsman, I picture scenes from Jackie Brown—Max Cherry leading one suspect into the prison and taking another one out. Well, that, or Dogg the Bounty Hunter chasing someone through a motel parking lot.

But let’s be honest, both of these are products of entertainment. They don’t exactly present a full picture of the mechanics of the bail bond process. So let’s break it down a bit.

What happens when you’re arrested?

After an arrest, a judge will set an appropriate bail. The amount of the bail depends on a number of things like the defendant’s criminal record, the nature of the crime or crimes committed, and where the defendant lives, among other things.

In the American justice system, there is what’s called the presumption of innocence. In short, every person is considered innocent until proven guilty. This means that technically speaking the state shouldn’t be able to hold a person in prison before they’ve been officially convicted of a crime.

So until their court date, the person facing charges is still considered innocent in the eyes of the law, and thus has a right to their freedom. Of course, this is still America, and in America not much comes for free.

That’s where bail comes in. The judge may set bail, depending on a number of factors. Pay the posted bail amount, and the defendant goes free until their court date.

Bail works as a kind of deposit, ensuring that the accused will show up to their court date. If the bail is paid in full initially, then it will be returned upon completion of the defendant’s court requirements (minus court fees).

Of course, not a lot of people can just afford for drop thousands of dollars out of the blue.

That’s where a bail bondsman comes in

A bail bondsman will front the money on behalf of the defendant, in order to get them out of jail. A bail bond works as a surety bond, which means that the bondsman is essentially vouching for the defendant, and that they will show up to their court date.

Bondsman charge a fee, typically 10-13% of the total bail amount, for their services. This charge is nonrefundable.

If the defendant fails to show up for any and all of their court dates, then the bondsman will seek recompense from the defendant for the full amount of the bond. Since they were the ones vouching for the defendant in the first place, they become responsible for paying back the court if the defendant doesn’t show up.

For this reason, they may send a bounty hunter to find the defendant and take them into jail, at which point they may recover the bond.

Before you call the bail bondsman

For a lot of people, a bail bondsman may seem like the only solution to an unfortunate situation. However, it is not your only option, and in the long run may not be in your best interest.

Before calling the bail bondsman, call the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Bloom Legal. We offer free consultations, and we can advise you on all your options. In some cases, we are able to negotiate with the judge to get a reduced bail or a no bail.

Sometimes, if the defendant does not have a criminal history, we are able to negotiate an ROR, or release under one’s own recognizance. This means that the court does not set a bail amount, and instead releases the defendant on the good faith that they will show up to their court proceedings.

The bail bondsman may seem like the fastest option for getting someone out of jail. However, when someone has been arrested, getting them out of jail initially is only the first step in a much larger process with serious ramifications for one’s life and wellbeing.

Unfortunately, too many  people wind up spending their money on a bondsman, and then are unable to hire a proper attorney for the ensuing criminal proceedings.

At Bloom Legal, we care about our clients and what happens to them. We understand the ways in which the criminal justice system disproportionately and negatively impacts lower income people.

We make it our mission to try to make the best out of a bad situation for every clients.  If you or someone you know has been arrested, call Bloom Legal today, and we will do everything we can not only to get them out of jail, but to keep them out.

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