At Balboa Bail Bonds, we have provided a brief explanation of common bail terminology to assist you in understanding this vital part of the justice system.
Bond Recovery Agent
Bond recovery agents, also known as fugitive recovery agents or bounty hunters, are hired contractors who locate and retrieve people who don’t show up for the court hearings or trial. Many bond recovery agents have law enforcement backgrounds, which gives them the advantage over most criminals who flee.
When someone is “cited out,” it means that they are released with a promise to show up for their court hearings or trial, instead of being booked and incarcerated. Most people are cited out for minor traffic violations or small crimes that don’t indicate any risk to themselves or others; however, any breach of that trust (by not appearing as ordered) can cause an arrest warrant to be issued.
If you are unable to pay the full bail amount, various personal belongings (called collateral) can be temporarily turned over to a bond agent as a guarantee for posting your bail. Common items used as collateral include land, cars, and jewelry. Once your bail has been exonerated, any collateral used to secure the bond is returned. If your bail is forfeited, the collateral is turned over to the bail bond agency to cover the bond.
When bail is exonerated, it means that the full amount of the bail is returned to the bond agency (or person if bail was posted by an individual), as the conditions of bail have been met in full. This means that you attended all court hearings and trial proceedings, through to acquittal or conviction and bail is no longer relevant.
Forfeiture occurs when the conditions of bail have been violated by missing court appearances or noncompliance to court orders, and it means that the court keeps the full bail amount. If a bail bond agency posted your bail, this means that you owe the agency the full bail amount plus any premium that charged for their services.
An indemnitor/guarantor is a person, usually a friend or family, that co-signs on a bail bond agreement to be responsible for the defendant’s appearance in court. Indemnitors/guarantors often are required to put up collateral against the defendant’s appearance in court and compliance with court orders.
A premium is an amount charged by a bail bond agency for posting your bond. Premiums are usually a percentage of the total bail amount and typically vary from 10 to 15%. Premiums are often charged upfront and are not returned to you. Balboa Bail Bonds charges a low 10% premium and offers rebates for active military and veterans.
Bail bond reinstatement is the process where a court will reinstate a previously-forfeited bail bond. It is an exact procedure done with a bail bond agent who brings you to court and files to have your bond reinstated, explaining the circumstances, and convincing the judge that it was an honest mistake. The time limit for reinstatement is usually 30 days after an FTA (failure to appear).
Released on Your Own Recognizance
Being released on your own recognizance means that a judge has determined that there is no risk of you fleeing, and granting you release without needing bail. Being released on your own recognizance often happens with minor crimes committed by people who can show stability in the area in the form of a family, house, job, etc.
A court issues a summary judgment once bail has been forfeited and the time limit for reinstatement has passed. Once a summary judgment has been issued, the full bail amount must be paid to the court without any further chance for reinstatement.