How Bail Bonds Work
Let’s go back and revisit Bill Smith’s story using our key terms as they have been defined. These words will be in italics, so the reader can better appreciate their function.
After attending the company holiday party, Bill got into his car to drive home. Unfortunately, Bill did not exercise good judgment, failing to realize that he was a little more impaired than he thought. Next thing he knows, his erratic driving has caught the attention of a local police cruiser and he finds himself pulled over on the side of the road. The peace officer gives him a sobriety test and determines that Bill is quite drunk. Bill’s thoughts race on the long ride down to the station. “Not again. I wonder how much my bail will be this time.”
Bill is booked into the jail and the next morning, he is put before a magistrate who sets his bail at $10,000.00.
Bill calls his wife, Mary, and relays the bad news of his newly instated $10,000.00 bail. “But Bill, we don’t have that much money!”, she exclaims. He tells her to call a bail agent to put up a bail bond and get him out.
Mary promptly speaks with a bail agent who tells her she needs come down to the bail agent’s office to arrange for the making of the bond.
Mary meets with the bail agent and the bail agent outlines the conditions under which they will be able to go and post a bond to get Bill out of custody. He explains to Mary that she will have to pay 10% of the $10,000.00 bail ($1,000.00) and that she, or someone else on Bill’s behalf, will have to put up collateral. Mary informs the bail agent of the $3,000.00 in a savings account, but that’s all they have. The bail agent follows up by asking her if she has another responsible party who could serve as indemnitors/co-signers. Mary says Bill’s employer, Big Sack Concrete, would probably co-sign in order to get Bill back on the job. Mary makes a call, and sure enough, Bill’s boss comes down and signs an indemnity agreement for any bond loss and/or incidental expenses that may be incurred should Bill not make his scheduled court appearances.
Having all the paperwork completed the bail agent then:
(1) goes to the jail,
(2) fills out the bail bond,
(3) signs the bail bond as the bail agent of the surety,
(4) gives the bond to the jailer and, finally,
(5) waits for Bill to be released.
Generally, the bail agent would take Bill to the bail bond office where the bail agent will explain to Bill and Mary (and perhaps the indemnitor/co-signer) all of the responsibilities pursuant to the conditions and terms to which they have agreed.
Mary goes home and Bill and his boss go to the cement plant. Weeks pass and Bill’s first scheduled court appearance is this coming Tuesday at 10:00 A.M. Sure enough, Bill got drunk again and missed his court date.
Once Bill failed to appear, the judge declared the bond forfeited and ordered the issuance of a bench warrant, thus declaring Bill a fugitive.
The bail agent calls Mary and Bill’s boss and tells them Bill is in trouble and that they need to get him down to the bond office immediately. Twenty-four hours later, still no Bill.
The bail agent then calls the fugitive recovery person (“Bounty Hunter”) he normally uses under such circumstances. He instructs that person to get a copy of the warrant, go find Bill and bring him back to jail.
Bill, knowing that the third time is the charm, and that he will likely be serving time in the penitentiary, flees to Canada.
The fugitive recovery person learns of this and goes to considerable expense to try and locate Bill in Canada so he can be brought back into proper custody. A few months of this activity goes by, and despite the fact that the bail agent has spent $4,000.00 on the fugitive recovery person’s expenses, Bill is still at large.
The bail agent calls his lawyer and asks him to file a motion to set the forfeiture aside as an alternative to reduce the amount that will have to be paid because of all the money the bail agent has spent trying to locate Bill. The lawyer files the motion. The court denies it and enters a judgment for the state. The state demands payment from the surety of the full $10,000.00.
The surety advises the bail agent of the payment demand and the bail agent pays the $10,000.00.
Now the bail agent is out a total of $14,000.00 ($10,000.00 for bail and $4,000.00 for Fugitive Recovery Person expenses). In order to recoup his money, the bail agent claims Mary’s $3,000.00 collateral deposit and uses it to offset some of his expenses, leaving him still with $11,000.00 in out-of-pocket expenses.
The bail agent then makes a demand upon both Mary and Bill’s employer for the $11,000.00. Neither of them responds.
The bail agent calls his lawyer back and has him file a lawsuit against Mary and Bill’s employer for recovery of the $11,000.00, plus his attorneys’ fees for collection, all part of the indemnity agreement terms and conditions as agreed to and signed by Mary and Bill’s employer.
Between Bill’s boss and Mary, they work out a payment plan with the bail agent to give him $500.00 a month (all they can raise between themselves each month) until the entire $11,000.00 is paid. The bail agent, perhaps having little choice and under advice of his attorney, accepts the payment plan.
Bail is a risky business.
The bail agent sends in his production report and he lists Bill’s bond. He sends the surety one check for premium of $200.00 (2% of the bond amount) and one check for build-up fund of $100.00 (1% of the bond amount). The surety sends the bail agent back a new $10,000.00 replacement power of attorney.
The bail bonding business is filled with various twists and turns. However, the materials presented here are designed to assist the reader with knowledge regarding the bail bond business.
This article was written by Jerry Watson of AIA, the nation’s leading underwriter of Surety Bail.
For immediate bail bond assistance please call 1-877-523-4269