Bail is a standard part of the criminal justice system in the United States. If a defendant has been charged with a crime and is detained, they can be released from custody before they stand trial by posting bail.
What is Bail?
Bail is a sum of money that ensures the defendant appears in court for their scheduled hearings. If a defendant does not show up for their court hearing and an arrest warrant is issued, bail is forfeited.
Bail is an amount that can be hard to pay upfront, especially as certain crimes come with certain amounts. A petty offense like shoplifting will not have the same amount as domestic violence, so not everybody can afford to pay the full amount of bail upfront, especially when the amount exceeds tens of thousands of dollars, but this is where a bail agent, formerly known as a bail bondsman, can come in.
What is a Bail Bonds Agent?
A bail bonds agent provides the defendant with a type of insurance policy that guarantees the defendant’s appearance in court. To secure the services of a bail bonds company, the defendant will pay a non-refundable fee, which is typically 10% of the total bail amount; however, there are other amounts a defendant can pay, for example, 6% or sometimes as low as 0%.
What Does a Bail Bonds Agent Do?
When a defendant cannot pay their bail amount in full, a bail bonds agent or bail bondsman can help them obtain what is known as a surety bond. This acts as a contract between the bondsman, the court, and the defendant where the bond agent agrees to pay the full bail amount if the defendant does not show up for the court date. The defendant also pays the bondsman a non-refundable fee for their services.
A bail bonds agent role is essential for a defendant. A bail bond agent can secure an individual’s release from jail prior to the trial. When a defendant secures a bail bond through a bail bond agent, they are released from jail and can go about their daily business while awaiting their court date.
A bail bond agent may also take steps to ensure the client shows up for court; these would include:
- Working with a third-party tracking service.
- Regular check-ins with the defendant.
- The defendant provides the agent with collateral as some form of security, which helps an agent protect their investment.
The bail bonds agent is a crucial part in the bonds process and is usually available 24/7, such as Balboa Bail Bonds, which means individuals can access services at any time, day or night, especially if they have been arrested outside of typical business hours like evenings or weekends.
How Do Bail Bonds Companies Make Money?
Bail bonds agents make money by charging fees for these services, also known as a bail premium. This is a fee that is paid directly to the bond company for acquiring their services which is typically 10% of the total bail amount. For example, if a bail amount is set at $5,000, the amount the defendant would pay to the bail bonds company would be $500, which obtains their surety bond and ensures they are released from jail.
While this is typically around 10% of the total bail amount, discounts or payment plans can be available on an individual basis, but can also potentially charge a higher fee depending on the defendant. For example, if they are charged with a very serious crime, such as domestic violence, and the defendant has a higher flight risk, which means they are more likely to flee the country, state, or county, the bail bonds company would charge a higher premium because the individual poses a higher risk.
Is the Fee Refundable?
The bail bonds company fee is non-refundable as this fee is the primary source of income for bail bond companies. Like an insurance agent or a real estate agent gets a commission for a client they work with, the same applies to the bail bondsman or agent, who gets a percentage of the bail premium in exchange for their time and energy. After the bail bonds agent has been paid for their services, the rest pays the bond company expenses, such as rent, taxes, insurance, and advertising.
Is the Bail Bonds Fee Included in the Bail Amount?
No, it is not. The fee charged by a bail bond agent is separate from the bail amount itself. The bail amount is set by the court according to factors such as:
- The defendant’s criminal history.
- The defendant’s working situation.
- The defendant’s stance in the community.
- The criminal history of the defendant.
- The crime in question and its associated severity.
The fee charged by the bail bond agent is the bail bondsman’s fee for providing surety and is assuming the risk of paying the full bail amount if the defendant does not appear at their scheduled court hearing.
Do You Need a Bail Bond Agent?
A bail bond company is a critical part of the criminal justice system. Individuals who have been charged with a crime are allowed freedom before their trial date as long as they pay the bail bond amount. A bail bond agent is an individual that needs to determine if a client is a good candidate for bail.
Anybody who needs to make bail must recognize there are a number of conditions the defendant must meet in order to have their freedom before their court hearing date. If an individual is deemed too risky, for example, if the crime they’ve committed is too severe or they are deemed untrustworthy, a bail bonds agent can refuse to provide a client with their services. By taking precautions, bail bonds agents can ensure plans show up to court and minimize their own losses if a client skips bail.
If you or a loved one is in need of a bail bond agent, you can get in touch with us at Balboa Bail Bonds, where we can run through the details and if we can give you our services. We are always available 24/7 for free bail information about bail bond prices, payment options, and court information. With free price quotes and bail advice, we can help you or a loved one obtain their much-deserved freedom.