Simply put: A bail bond is a contract between 4 entities:
- The bail bonding company
- The jurisdiction that holds your warrant (or court)
- The person co-signing for your bail.
- You – The Defendant
The bail agents, as well as the co-signers are the people who are responsible for you showing up for all of your court appearances. Now, you do have the option to pay the bond yourself, if you can afford it. The bail amount is set by the court and usually dependent on the severity of your crime and if you are deemed a flight risk. If you are a flight risk or try to escape, be sure an inmate search will be performed to find you and bring you to justice and you may not receive a bond at all.
Big hint here: turning yourself in once you discover you are wanted on a warrant normally does not make you a flight risk… this may reduce your bond amount… check with your attorney.
The bail bond company provides a guarantee to the court that you will appear in court when summoned by the judge, ie; your next court date. You will also need to check in regularly with your bail agent as a condition of your release.
Money, in the form of a bond, is required by the court as a monetary incentive to release you and keep you, the defendant, from fleeing the area, or the country for that matter. The bail bond company then charges a fee for posting your bond – this amount varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In most instances, the bond amount for a felony is normally 10% of the entire bond. So if you are placed on $100,000 bail your bond amount to pay the bail bond company would only be $10,000. This saves you from having to come up with the entire $100,000 yourself as most people could not afford this. Mind you, the $10,000 fee you paid to the bonding company you will not get back.
For a misdemeanor arrest, the bail bond company normally charges a 20% fee. So if you are arrested on a misdemeanor and your bond has been set at $2000 then you would only have to pay a bonding company $400. Again, you will not get this amount back – this is a fee. Although, check with your accountant, you may be able to write this amount off on your taxes for the coming year.
Collateral is typically required on large bonds to ensure you will not skip the the case and head for Mexico. Normally a bonding company will have your co-signer sign a note (contract) stating they will give up collateral worth the amount of the bond and any other fees. This could be their car, boat or even their home. So if you have a bond that is $100,000 and you decide to skip town, your co-signer is on the hook for the other $90,000 plus any applicable fees.
The system is designed to keep you around to complete the judicial case. Usually it works and often, you have seen the shows, some people abscond and attempt to flee. But, once a warrant is written – that warrant never goes away, until you are brought in front of a judge to answer those charges. There are of course manuals and publications that describe in complete detail the bail bonding process and how to turn yourself in properly.
A good bondsman will take down all of your vitals (height, weight, date of birth, where you hang out, what you drive, where you work, etc). The bondsman will also take a picture of you, any distinguishing marks and really get to know you before they fork over a bunch of money to the courts. Some will even go so far as to take a picture of your co-signer and get to know them and their property before releasing your bond.
If you fail to check in, or totally abscond (run away) and the bail agent or the co-signer are unable to locate you in time for trial, your co-signer is immediately responsible for the full amount of the bail. Once you are located and arrested by the bail agent or police department, the co-signer is responsible for all of the bail agent’s expenses while looking for you. All of this will be in the contract you and the co-signor have signed and must sign.
Remember, when dealing with a bondsman, don’t act out or talk brash. If the bondsman doesn’t think you will be coming back to court they have the opportunity to say no to your bail. They do not have to bond you. There is no law stating they have to bond you. So act accordingly.
If you are convicted there are certain steps you can take to flip the bond over for your appeal, this is all dependent on your bonding company and how you treated them. While you are waiting for your appeal in county jail or prison, remember you must also protect yourself, share your crime or charges with no one.
White collar, blue collar or no collar – when you go to prison you all go equally. Getting a good bondsmen is key to your freedom while fighting your charges. If you have an active warrant or simply need some advice before you turn yourself in, you should consult with a bail bondsman to get all the facts about how bail bonds work in your state.
If you cannot pay your bail or know anyone who will co-sign for it then you will become a prison inmate until your trial is ready to begin. If you are curious whether or not someone you love needs to be bonded and bailed out and is in jail or prison, you can use an inmate lookup tool.