Bail Bonds Information
When a person is arrested for a crime they will typically be allowed to post bail with the court in order to be released from custody pending the outcome of the trial. This is commonly referred to as posting bail, however there are actually a variety of methods to post bail. In some states the courts may accept bail payments directly. This is a recent occurrence which is a part of the legislation restrictions and crack downs on commercial bail bonds agencies.
What happens after I’m arrested?
If you have been arrested for committing a crime the first thing that happens is you are taken to the local police station or jail and booked in for the arrest. During the booking process your finger prints will be taken along with a photograph and other personal information may be collected. Next you will be placed in a holding cell where you will have to await a hearing with a judge regarding your trial. Unfortunately, for individuals arrested on a Friday or over the weekend, it is most likely inevitable that you will remain in holding until Monday when the next judge is available to preside over your case.
After your hearing has been scheduled with a judge you will be transported to the court house typically in a bus or van where you a trial date will be set for your case. During this preliminary hearing the judge will typically offer you the opportunity to post bail in order to secure your release pending the outcome of the trial. Depending on the nature and severity of the crime committed, combined with the individual’s previous criminal history, the option to post bail may be denied by a judge all together.
The judge bases their bail amount off of the Bail Schedule which is a document produced annually in each county to create a guideline for bail amounts for various crimes within the county. Ultimately the judge’s discretion will determine the amount the defendant’s bail will be set at, however the Bail Schedule guidelines provide the minimum and maximum bail costs for particular crimes.
If you are afforded the option to post bail it will typically be processed through a bail bondsman or bail bonds agent. In most states a bail bondsman is not allowed to determine the price they are charging however they receive 10% of the bail amount as a result of their services. In states like California this value is set in stone and can only be lowered to 8% depending on the client’s affiliation with organizations such as the military, credit unions, school districts or law attorneys. A bail bondsman is not allowed to offer coupons, credit or other incentives to utilize their services outside of this 2% reduction for affiliation.
After a defendant has been released on bail they are not free of the charges filed against them. They are still required to appear to all of their court dates and may be sentenced to jail after the trial’s conclusion depending on its outcome. Failure to appear in court when on bail results in a warrant for the defendant’s arrest for FTA or failure to appear.
Skipping Court Dates
If an individual skips a court date after they are released on bail the responsibility to ensure they appear in court is on the bail bondsman and the defendant. The bondsman will not receive their commission until the trial is concluded and the defendant is sentenced or cleared of charges. As a result the bail bonds company will typically contract a bounty hunter to apprehend the bail jumper in order to ensure their appearance in court and trial conclusion.
How do bail bondsmen make money?
A bail bondsman basically makes their money as an interest or commission in processing a defendant’s bail paperwork. If cash is paid up front to the courthouse this cash is returned to the defendant after the trial. With a bondsman they are essentially charging the defendant the 10% commission only and footing the complete cost of the bail amount. When the trial concludes they are refunded the full bail amount they keep the 10% supplied by the defendant which is how a bail bonds company gets paid for their services.