Bail FAQ

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Everything you need to know about Bail

History of Bail Bonds

The concept of bail dates back to the origination of English law. Sheriffs knew that long periods of time could pass from the arrest to the trial date or preliminary hearing. These sheriffs managed the jail and were frequently the bail officers. At that time, jails were easy to escape from; and keeping someone in prison was costly and problematic. By law, a sheriff whose prisoner escaped was hung for the offense. In addition, the jail environment was unsanitary; and prisoners could die before trial. Bail bonds posted by friends and family, who took the responsibility for the accuser's court appearance, then became the prison release of choice. The thought behind this idea consists of the belief that the family will keep track of the accused instead of forfeiting their property, Due to the strong family tie; it was assumed that the accused would appear for trial to protect the interest used for his bail. In addition, bail prevented the punishment of imprisonment until the accused was found guilty of the crime. These ideas later became part of the U.S. legal system and are protect in the right to due process in the event of a criminal offense.

Pretrial Detention

May be ordered by a judge when defendant is a threat to the community or risk of flight.

Why Bail Bonds Work

Being private enterprise more defendants will appear for trial with out cost to taxpayer or government.

Bail Licenses

In many states, the bail bondsman is required to obtain a license from the state insurance commission. The minimum age requirement to obtain a bail bondsman license is 18 years old. In many instances, twelve hours of pre-licensing class time are required. This class time covers the legal aspects of providing bail bonds, including the rights of the accused and ethical a business practices. A surety company bond for usually 1 thousand dollars is also required to be filed along with the state department of insurance application. Copies of all of the agreements used in business should also be provided for review by the insurance commission. Fingerprints are also required to be on file with the application. Applicant must pass the department of insurance's written exam. Most licenses are issued to individuals and are valid for one year. License renewal requires an additional fee and six additional classroom hours. For additional information on the bail bond licensing process, contact your state insurance commission.

Bail Bondsman Code of Ethics

The behavior of bail bondsmen is covered by a code of ethics. The code of ethics specifies the bond agents' duties regarding their clients, community, and competition for clients. Bondsmen owe their clients the best effort to post bail within a specific time frame. A bond agent also has the obligation to turn down clients in certain instances. Specialized bonds should be handled by experienced bond agents. A bond agent should tell the client if they're unable to handle the bonding situation. Bond agents have the responsibility to exercise care and protect the personal property put up for collateral aspects of using collateral should also be familiar to the bond agent. Bondsmen are liable for negligent acts regarding the collateral or business dealings. The bond agent should not discriminate based on race, religion, or national origin. The bond agent should also operate fairly to avoid conflicts with other licensed bond agents. The bondsman should make every effort to explain the disclosure agreements and bail documents. Additional information on the code of ethics can be obtained from a bail bondsman in your area.

Confidentiality Relationship with Bail Bondsman

A bail bond service provides a confidential source of funds for your bail. The services of a bail bond agent can prevent you from having to approach friends, family, banks, and other financial sources to obtain the bail amount. Using a bail bondsman allows you to complete the paperwork in one sitting. This prevents headaches and allows you to focus on your defense. You can easily determine and sign over collateral items at one time. It prevents the need to transfer funds at a numerous financial institutions. The bonding services allows you to maintain some control over your defense. It prevents the need to transfer funds at a numerous financial institutions. The bonding services allow y0o to maintain some control over your circumstances and the information regarding the charges pending against you. Bond agents work in your corner to gain you release as soon as possible. Although confidentiality is not guaranteed by the code of ethics most Bond agents use discretion.

The bondsman should provide complete disclosure of the bond process and release advice while and attorney is present if possible. For additional information on bail bond agent confidentiality, contact a bail bondsman. Bail bond services offer many convenience features. Bail bondsmen are familiar with the procedures to gain your release from jail. They can use their experience to help you gain a faster release. A great majority of bond agents are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or all hours of jail operation. This allows you to gain release when a bail amount is known. Bond agents are able to complete the paperwork in normally one meeting, either in their office of at the jail facility. Bail bondsmen have the ethical obligation to inform you of any facts that would normally be of interest to you while applying for a bail bond. They will explain the disclosure forms so you understand what you're signing. Some bail bond agencies can even help prevent arrest by posting a bail bond for you in another jurisdiction where you may have a charge pending against you. Speak with a bail bondsman to learn more about their convenient service features.

Payment Arrangements

When you need to post bail, payment arrangements van make a big difference, may bail bond agencies now accept credit cards to cover the premium payments needed to secure the bond. Automatic teller machine cards may also be accepted at some agencies depending on the charge, some motor vehicle emergency clubs my provide bail bond assistance. The majority of them cover exclusively traffic violation nm and guaranteed bond amounts vary. Financing premium payment may also be available. Payment arrangements are the sole discretion of the bond agent. Bond agents can request the maximum legal premium payment to take less with additional installment payment plans. Payment agreements are specific to each bail bond. The more willing the bond agent is to work with you to come up with the funding for a premium payment; the faster you or your family member can be released from jail. Contact a bail bondsman for specific information on payment arrangements available in your area.

Premium Payments

Premium payments represent the bail bondsman's fee for securing your release from confinement. This fee is normally restricted by law to a certain percentage of the bail amount. For example, if bail is 10 thousand dollars then the premium fee of ten to fifteen percent would be 1 thousand or 15 hundred dollars. Depending on the charges and the duration of the t5rial, another premium payment may be required. Generally, the premium paid is only valid for one year. The remaining amount of the bail bond is covered by collateral. The premium amount is not refundable, regardless of the disposition of the charges against the accused. The collateral will be released, assuming the court has come to a decision and bail terms were satisfied. If you flee the court, or “jump bail”, the entire premium payment and collateral will be seized by the bonding agency. Paying premium payment to bond agents can save you money and allow you to manage your money instead of paying a cash bond to the court for the entire bail amount. A bail bondsman can provide additional information on premium payments.

Bail Conditions

Bail conditions can vary depending on the type of bail, the restriction of the court, and the bail bond agreement. One necessary condition of bail is the obligation to appear at any and all court appointment and grails. Bail for release, appeal procedures, and parole applications can limit your travel to within a certain area courts may give permission to travel if you provide detailed information about your plans to the court officer. Bondsmen also have the right to impose restrictions on their terms of bail if you have a drug problem and refuse treatment; a bondsman can make treatment completion a requirement of the bond. An Agreement with this condition can send you back to jail if you fail to complete the treatment. Mandating treatment in this manner can ensure that you get needed help. Additional conditions may include continued employment or meeting scheduled appoints with court officers. An attorney or bail bondsman can provide additional information on bail conditions.

Bond Indemnitor

Bond indemnitors, or co-signers, have the responsibility of paying the bail bond's premium payment and adhering to the contract agreement. Bond premium fees are generally valid for only one year. If the term of bail runs longer than a year, Additional premium payments are required. Bond indemnitors can be family, friends, or even the accused. A co-signer, or guarantor, has the most to lose should the accused not show for trial appearances, In addition to forfeiting the premium payment, co-signers can lose items used as collateral to cover the remaining bail bond balance. Bond indemnitors can impose conditions of release on the bail bond agreement, for instance, completing a drug treatment program or mental evaluation can be required to maintain the bail bond release. If a person on bail attempts to flee, the co-signer can have the bail bond privilege revoked. A bail bondsman in your area can provide additional information on c0-signing or guaranteeing a release bond.

Using Collateral

In order to obtain a surety bond, the bondsman will require collateral in addition to the premium payment percentage before the bond can be issued and release gained. Collateral for the outstanding bail bond amount can include nearly anything of resale value that your. Equity in a home can be considered collateral assuming there Is not a second mortgage for the amount. Cars may not be considered collateral unless you own them free and clear of nay financing institution. Once a large item is used as collateral, you may keep possession and continue to use it while the bondsman holds the item's title. This includes houses, boats, motor homes, and cars. Smaller items of value, like jewelry, computers, cameral and firearms, will need to be surrendered to the bondsman. The bondsman will keep thee items in a secure location for the duration of the bail. Only the resale value of the items will be used towards the necessary collateral amount-not the amount paid. Your collateral is returned after charges are dropped, sentence is determined, or innocence is proven. A bail bondsman in your area can provide additional information on collateral.

Removing Bond Liabilities

The liability of bail is removed once the terms of the bail have been satisfied. This includes attendance at all the court proceedings. Once the defendant has been vindicated or charges have been dismissed, the bond is considered void. The defendant is still liable for any fines or penalties regarding the case. The bail bondsman will return any items used as collateral to hold the bond. The bond agent will verify the exoneration with the courts prior to releasing nay lies ns. However, if an outstanding premium payment is due to the bail bondsman, the liability is kept until the payment is paid in full. The indemnitor, or co-signer, of the bond is liable to the full bond amount if the bond is forfeited due primarily to the defendant “skipping” the court proceeding. Bail bondsman expenses are also included until the court exonerates the bond. If the defendant is sentenced for a crime and remanded to the court, the bail collateral is released to you. The premium payment to the bail bondsman is the exception. It's kept for guaranteeing release and court appearances. For additional information on the removal of bond liabilities, contact a bail bondsman.

Withdrawal of Bail

The primary condition of you bail requires you to appear in court. However additional condition may be part of our terms of release. These conditions can include completion of a substance abuse treatment program or checking in regularly with some agent of the court. If you inform someone of an intent to flee the court, your bail can be withdrawn. A bail agent can even terminate your bail with little to no cause and request that you be remanded to confinement. If you leave your job, can't be found or indicated you would run from the courts, a bond agent may withdraw your bond and return you to jail. If you pose a threat to the community or commit a crime while on bail, the court my deny bail and, n effect, withdraw the existing bail privilege. An attorney or bail bondsman in your area can provide additional information on bail withdrawal.

Right to Arrest

Bail bondsmen, in many instances, have a greater license to arrest than local law enforcement. The Supreme Court decision of “Taylor versus Taintor” holds that once bail is proved, “the principal is regard as delivered to the custody of his sureties. Their dominion is a continuation of the original imprisonment.” The arrest is not considered a new process but an extension of the original arrest for the bailed charge. The bondsman may at any time cancel the bail privilege and return the defendant to confinement a bail bond agent may choose to hire an en\forces to being in the defendant. Bondsmen or their agents are not required to obtained additional warrants or extradition papers. A bail bondsman or enforcer agent can break and enter the residence of the defendant for the purpose of arrest. A bond agent may be required to register with local law enforcement prior to making an arrest of the defendant. Failure to notify local officials can result in fines and potential jail time of the agent. Additional information on the right to arrest can be provided by an attorney or bail bondsman. Although the bail bondsman's right to arrest can include extradition, many special circumstances may be involved.

Bounty hunters have the right to arrest an accused individual who has fled the court. However, the process of returning them to the court can be somewhat challegning. The bail enforcer may have to register with the local legal authority prior to the arrest, failure to do so can result in fines, jail time, and even kidnapping charges for the bounty hunter. Many bondsmen have the arrest warrant and other necessary documents available, so a court appearance in the city or state where the arrest occurs is not necessary. The extradition authority of the bounty hunter does not carry over to international law. So if the accused individual has traveled out of the Unites States, the extradition would be subject to the international agreements made between the two countries involved. State law varies as to the recognized authority of a bounty hunter to arrest and extradite accused individuals. A bail bondsman can provide additional information on extradition procedures.

Bounty Hunters

Bounty Hunters, or bail enforcers, are often hired by bail bondsmen to locate, arrest, and return the accused person to court. Bail enforcers share the rights to arrest with the hiring bail bond agent. These rights may vary from state to state for example in the state of Florida only a licensed Bail bonds person may affect an arrest. It is a criminal offense for any other person than the Bail bonds person or a law enforcement officer. In these type arrests there are no need to obtain search warrants or extradition documents within the United States. Breaking and entering is permitted by Licensed Bail Agents or in some states by bail enforcers if the residence is that of the individual they are tracking. However, the bounty hunter needs to be certain they have the right person or both the bondsman and the bounty hunter are liable or damages and lawsuits for false arrest. Many states require bounty hunters to register with local law enforcement prior to making an arrest. Failure to notify the local agency can result in fines and even jail time for the bounty hunter. The rights to arrest held by the bounty hunter doesn't transfer to foreign countries. Charges of kidnapping can result for arrests in foreign countries. According to state statues some states allow bounty hunters to carry firearms and should be trained in the legal aspects of their position. Contact a bail bondsman for additional information on bounty hunters in your state.

Skipping Bail

Skipping bail is the term used to describe a charged individual who fails to make the mandated court appearances. When an accused person skips bail; the court issues a bench warrant for their arrest and court appearance. Bail is normally forfeited at a specified time period thereafter. Once the individual has skipped, a bail bondsman may try to locate them through whatever means possible. This can include hiring the services of a bounty hunter. “Tracking a skip,” as it's sometimes referred to, can involve role playing on the part of the bounty hunter. This deception is legal and can often lead to obtaining information on the location of the accused. However should the bounty hunter causes property damage during the arrest, the bondsman can also be held liable for the costs. If the accused is returned to court prior to the forfeiture date, the bail amount has not been paid and the collateral may be returned. State law varies on the rights and obligations of bounty hunters in tracking an accused person. For additional information on skipping bail, contact a bail bondsman in your area.

Federal Bonds

Bail bonds for crimes in U.S, District courts are considered federal bonds. These bonds serve the same purpose as other types of bonds. They release you from jail on the guarantee you'll appear at all court proceedings. Federal offenses include any interstate crime. There is no schedule of bail amounts for individual offenses. The judge, during an arraignment hearing, determines the bail amounts. It's not uncommon to have the bail amounts in federal cases be set at high levels, making obtaining release more difficult. A bail bondsman is able to write federal bonds for a premium charge. The normal premium charge is ten percent of the bail amount. However, the premium amount may be as high as 15 percent of the set bail. Federal bonds are subject to forfeiture, should you miss your court appearances. The date of forfeiture is determined by the court judge. Forfeited bonds are paid to the U.S government. A bail bondsman experienced in federal bonds can provide bail agreement.

Bail Agreements

Bail agreements constitute a contract between the indemnitor of the bail and the bondsman. Generally the agreement includes the following bail information: the date a bail assigned, the judge assigning the bail, the charge and court with which it's filed, and the names and contact information for the bond so-signer. The bail amount is also described in the contract. Upon signing the bond agreement, the cosigners assume the responsibility for the charged individual to appear in court and answer any charge listed. The agreement also states that if the arrested party fails to make the court proceedings, the bond agency will pay the bail amount listed if ordered to do so by the court. In the event of forfeiture, the agreement allows the collateral securing the bail bond to be seized by the bond agency. Frequently the agreement will also site the legal sections applicable to the agreement. Signatures by the bond agency and guarantor are required for the contract to be binding. Additional information on bail agreements can be obtained from a bail bondsman.

Surety Bonds

Use of surety bond involves a series of contracts with a bondsman, or bond agent, for the bail amount. The bondsman interviews the arrested individual and the guarantor prior to assuring that the accused will appear in court. This information provides the bail agent with a reasonable determination of whether the accused will make the designated court appearances. Contracts can also contain various conditions of guaranteeing the release, such as completing drug treatment, Bonds are usually written for a premium percentage of the bail's full amount. Collateral from the guarantor is then used to secure the remaining bail amount. The bond agent is liable to the court for the full bail amount, in the event of the accused's failure to appear. This guarantee is made by using the assets and property of the bail agent's insurance, or surety, company. The surety company is usually licensed for operation by the insurance commission of the state. For additional information on surety bonds, consult a bail bondsman or an attorney.

Appeal Bond

Motions for release on bail are filed once the municipal court has handed down a quilt decision. When the case is appealed, the attorney also draws up the bail application for release pending the appellate court ruling. Appeal bonds require that a premium percentage be paid to the bond agent. However most bail bond agents require that the appeal bond be backed by cash collateral for the full bail amount. This means that instead of using property as collateral, you would need to provide a cashier's check, certificate of deposit, letter of credit, or cash for the full bail amount. If the municipal court verdict holds the sentence is then enforced; and the collateral for the bound would be returned. Failure to appear in court would mean forfeiture of the bail. The “skip” would then be a fugitive from justice and subject to arrest and extradition to carry out the sentence. An attorney or bail bondsman can provide you with additional information on appeal bonds.

Immigration Bonds

Immigration bonds, like other court bonds, guarantee the appearance of an individual charged with a legal violation in court. Bonds for immigration charges are posted with the immigration and naturalization service instead of a standard jail facility. The basic eligibility requirements are the same as for other types of bonds, including the annual premium payment paid to the bail bondsman. Immigration bonds differ from normal court bonds due to the difficulty they present for the bond agent. Normal licenses for bail bonds are not sufficient for immigration bonds; a causality insurance license is required. Bonds posted for immigration charges are also subject to immediate forfeiture should the arrested individual not appear in court. Some bond agents have found additional immigration bond difficulties to include language barriers and working within the operation hours of the immigration and naturalization service. Processes for collecting on collateral also vary in immigration cases. For additional information on immigration bonds, Contact a bail bondsman experienced with these bonds.

Property Bond

Depending on the jurisdiction of the case, an individual may be able to use property to gain release. The individual posts a property bond with the court. The value in the property may need to be twice as high as the bail amount. This means that property equity of twice the bail amount needs to be held free and clear by the owners. In some instances, a court appointed appraiser will access the property value. Other jurisdictions may accept the certified tax assessor's statement of property value. All owners of the property listed on the warranty deed or tax statement must sign in agreement to use their property as bail security. Several states prohibit the use of the arrested individual's property in release bond. The court secures a lien against the property for the bail amount. In the event the person fails to appear for court proceedings, foreclosure action may be taken against the property. This allows the court to collect on the outstanding bail amount. For additional information as to whether property bonds can be posted in your area, consult an attorney or court officer.

Cash Bonds

Cash bonds are posted by friend, family, or yourself when you're arrested for a crime. These bonds require the full bail amount and are not financed through a bail bondsman. You thereby guarantee your own presence in court. The court holds and restricts the total bail amount until the case is concluded. Posting a cash bond can consequently tie up necessary living funds and savings. Once the case is finalized, the bail is returned to you. Failure to appear for trial forfeits the bail to the court. The court then issues a bench warrant for your arrest. It's intended that you will have more to lose and a greater incentive to appear at court proceedings by either restricting the full bail amount of issuing an arrest warrant. In cases involving drug trafficking, all bail money must have proven origination from non-drug sources before it can be used as bail. For additional information on cash bonds, contact an attorney or court officer.

Own Recognizance

Release on your “own recognizance” gets you out of jail without bail money of bond. You're on your honor to return for the court proceedings. If you fail to return for trial, a bench warrant is issued; but you suffer no financial hardship. In order to determine your eligibility for an “own recognizance” release, a court administrator or judge will interview you while you're in custody. Many times this interview is even conducted over the phone. The interview provides the information an official needs to make a recommendation to the court. While this recommendation is important, high volumes of requests permit little time to perform back ground searches and verify the information provided by you. An “own recognizance” release protects your right to due process. If you're unable to make bail, this release can allow you to return to employment and regular living while awaiting trial. For additional information on an “own recognizance” release, contact an attorney in your area.

Pretrial Release

A pretrial release which allows a release from confinement prior to a trial can take several forms. Depending on the charge, release may be withheld. The right to bail or release is part of the due process legislation. It prevents potentially innocent people from losing their jobs, falling behind on bill payments, and suffering other difficulties as a result of imprisonment. Pretrial releases consist of bail bonds, citation releases, and release on one's own recognizance. Many pretrial release programs are funded through local tax dollars. The programs also save funds by releasing individual who pose no harm to the community until their trial. When accused individuals are released, they're no longer an expense of the local community's prison system. Should the accused party not appear in court, no financial hardship is incurred? However, a bench warrant is issued for their arrest. If they're found guilty of the charge, they may receive a harsher penalty and additional charges for the initial failure to appear. Contact a local attorney to learn more about pretrial releases.

Citation Release

Citation release is a form of pretrial release. A “cite out”, or citation release, is issued by the arresting officer. This citation informs us of the date that you must appear in court. The cite out is usually provided after the arrest, resulting in little or no time in confinement. The court appearance depends solely on your honesty. Failure to attend the court proceeding will result in a bench warrant issued for your arrest. In some instances, incomplete booking can make an additional arrest for failure to appear more difficult. By receiving a “cite out” no financial obligation or bail is required and no financial loss is incurred if you fail to attend the trial proceedings. The ability to receive a citation release can allow offenders of smaller crimes to return to relatively normal living until the trial. This release also protects your rights and presumes you “innocent until proven guilty.” An Attorney can provide additional information on obtaining a citation release.