What is a Bail Bondsman or Bail Bond Agent?
A bail bondsman, sometimes referred to as a bail bond agent, is a person that promises to be liable for the debt obligation of another (i.e. a surety). The bondsman pledges funds as bail, which ensures that the defendant will appear at court hearings.
How does a Bail Bondsman or Bail Bond Agent Make Money?
The source of a bondsman’s revenue stream is the fee he charges, which is typically a percentage of the amount of bail. Some court system’s attempt to circumvent a bondsman by allowing a criminal defendant to make a cash deposit with the court, in an amount substantially smaller than the exact amount set for bail.
What Happens When a Criminal Defendant Does Not Appear In Court?
When a criminal defendant fails to make his court appearance, the bondsman may bring the defendant to court in order to recover the funds the bondsman pledged. This is typically accomplished by way of a bounty hunter. However, some states prohibit this practice.
What is an Indemnitor or Co-Signor and What is The Extent of His Liability?
An indemnity or co-signor is a person, typically related to the criminal defendant, who guarantees that the criminal defendant will appear in court. If the defendant fails to appear, the bondsman may sue the indemnity (as well as the defendant) for any forfeited funds. If you are considering co-signing for a defendant’s bail bond, you need to consider the likelihood of defendant’s failure to appear in court. This is an important decision that should not be taken lightly.
What is The Basic Bail Bond Process?
Once someone, typically close to the criminal defendant, contacts a bondsman, the bondsman will document the case. The information the bondsman will take down will include the defendant’s employment information and where he lives. The bondsman obtains such information in order to ascertain whether he wants to perform his services for the defendant.
Once the bail bond agreement is signed, the bondsman will post the bond where the defendant is being held. The defendant will then be released. The entire process can be completed within several hours after the criminal defendant has been arrested and booked. As part of the arrest and booking process, the criminal defendant’s bail will be set, his fingerprints will be taken and a background check will be performed. The criminal defendant will be serached and their belongings will be documented in inventory. The defendant will then be taken to is cell.
Why It’s Important to Know Your Rights?
Some bondsman may try to take advantage of you by offering to post a bail bond that involves a low-rate, that is too good to be true. In many states, such as California, the amount a bondsman may charge is heavily regulated. It is possible that such a bondsman is trying to swindle you.
What Options Are Available to the Defendant Other Than Bail?
As discussed above, the defendant or someone on the defendant’s behalf may either obtain a bail bond.
Alternatively, the criminal defendant may be released on bail when someone on his behalf provides cash or a cashier’s check. Depending on the forms required, the source of the funds may need to be documented to insure the funds were not illegally obtained. Once the defendant has appeared and the matter has been resolved, the amount paid will be refunded. Obviously, paying your own bail is likely your best option, but is sometimes unavailable where the amount of bail is set too high for the defendant.
In some jurisdictions, a criminal defendant may post a property bond directly with the court. This process may take several weeks, however. Failure to adhere to the court’s requirements could result in the court’s foreclosing on the property, typically a home.
Sometimes defendants may be released on their Own Recognizance. Whether this is available depends on the judge and the particular case.
What is The Role of a Bounty Hunter in The Context of Bail Bonds?
There are references to bounty hunters throughout popular culture. In movies, television shows and the like, bounty hunters are often depicted as working side by side with bail bonds companies and bail bonds agents. The depictions often vary, depending on the amount of Hollywood spin is placed on their role. However, one thing remains universally true about bounty hunters and bail bonds enforcement agents. A bounty hunter or bail bonds enforcement agent is a person who essentially captures defendants who have skipped out on bail. Bounty hunters usually attempt to enforce bail bond agreements by capturing people who are deemed fugitives.
On the whole, the concept of bounty hunters and bail bonds enforcement agents is exclusive to the United States. The vast majority of bounty hunters in the United States are employed directly by bail bondsmen or bail bonds agents who have extended a bail bond to a person who is now a fugitive. Although the amount of pay that a bounty hunter receives varies depending on the particular set of circumstances, most bail bonds agencies pay bounty hunters approximately ten percent of the bail bond amount that the defendant paid.
In the event that a bail bonds enforcement agent (or bounty hunter) is unable to obtain custody of the fugitive, the bail bonds agent remains responsible for the remaining amount of bail owed. Although there is no overarching institution that keeps track of the effectiveness of bail bonds enforcement specialists, bounty hunters are said to have approximately a 90% success rate in capturing fugitives who have skipped out on bail.
Although the rules concerning bail bonds and bail bonds agents are fairly well regulated, despite the fact that they vary from state to state, the rules concerning bail bonds enforcement agents are far less uniform. Depending on the particular state, a bail bonds enforcement agent may not require any professional training, whereas other states require that bail bonds recovery specialists undergo formal training. Either way, bail bonds recovery agents are required to adhere to both Federal and state laws. The state laws within which a bail bonds agent and bail bonds recovery specialist operate are of particular importance in the context of extending bail bonds and capturing a fugitive who has jumped bail.
Lastly, bail bonds enforcement agents are typically not allowed to carry firearms unless they have the appropriate documentation and permits. In most states, being a bail bonds enforcement agent does not, by itself, provide a particular bail bonds enforcement specialist with the authority to carry a handgun.
What is Probation & Why is it Relevant to Criminal Law and to Bail Bonds?
When a court is determining a criminal defendant’s sentence, it may elect to sentence the defendant to probation instead of incarceration. A defendant who is sentenced to probation is called the “probationer”. The probationer is given freedom, subject to certain restrictions outlined by the court. A probationer is typically closely supervised by a probation officer. Probation officers supervise probationers and enforce the restrictions imposed by the court. The probation officer may administer drug tests and ensure the probationer does not relapse to a life of criminality.
The terms of a probationer’s probation may be altered by the court. The court may revoke the probationer’s probation after notice is given to the probationer. For instance, a court may choose to revoke a particular defendant’s probation when the probationer has violated one of the conditions outlined by the court.
Whether a criminal defendant will be subject to probation is within the court’s discretion. An important factor in whether the court grants probation rather than a prison sentence is the nature of the defendant’s offense and the defendant’s criminal history. On the whole, a court is more likely to sentence a defendant to probation where the offense committed was a relatively minor crime and/or where the defendant has not engaged in past criminality.
The underlying objective of probation is to rehabilitate the probationer, while protecting society from prospective criminal behavior on the part of the probationer.
Common Bail Bond Scams
Witnessing the arrest of a friend or loved-one can be traumatic. The heightened state of emotion caused by the arrest leaves most people feeling confused and vulnerable, making it easy for ruthless scam-artists to take advantage of them.
Do not fall prey to people masquerading as legitimate bail bondsman. Be weary of circumstances that do not seem right. You should be aware of the following scams:
When a bail bondsman purports to offer you a deal that is too good to be true, it probably is. Be aware of bait and switch tactics whereby a bondsman offers to charge a relatively small bond fee, only to later reveal that you are actually being charged much more. Such deception is likely a violation of the law and should be avoided at all costs. It is illegal for a bail bondsman to charge a bond fee that is lower than the rate mandated by law.
Avoid people who purport to be bail bondsman soliciting business inside jails or jail lobbies. Soliciting business in this manner is generally prohibited. You should avoid bail bondsman who are behaving unethically and in violation of law.
If you are contacted by a bail bondsman whose services have not been solicited, avoid working with them. Generally, this practice is prohibited.
It is imperative that you avoid working with unethical and unscrupulous bail bondsman. If a bail bondsman is behaving unethically or is not otherwise conforming his conduct to law, there is no telling what else he might do.
Bail Bonds Generally
If your friend or loved one has been arrested, you will likely require the services of a bail bonds agent. A bail bonds agent is a person who extends money on behalf of the arrested defendant. The pledging of money in order to ensure that a defendant appears in court on the date designated is governed by state bail bonds law. Bail bonds are available throughout the United States.
Bail bonds are especially helpful when your friend or loved one has been arrested and you are unable to pay for the full amount of the defendant’s bail. Bail bonds are designed to ensure the speedy release of a criminal defendant despite the fact that neither the defendant nor his friends or loved ones are able to afford the cost of bail.
Subject to the particularities of your bail bonds agreement, a bail bonds agent will post a bail bond with the court. As is usually the case, the bail bonds posted by a bail bonds agent will ensure that the various criminal defendants for which he or she vouches for will appear in court on the date set by the court.
How Much is Bail and How is The Amount Determined?
The amount of bail is set by the court. The amount may vary, depending on the court and the following factors:
(1) Seriousness of the defendant’s crime
(2) The chances the defendant may attempt to flee
(3) The defendant’s criminal history
(4) the defendant’s financial condition.
What is Excessive Bail and When May a Defendant Be Held Without Bail?
The Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits excessive bail. A defendant may be held without bail under any of the following conditions:
(1) There is a possibility the defendant will attempt to flee
(2) The court determines the defendant is dangerous
(3) The seriousness of the crime
(4) The court believes the defendant may attempt to destroy evidence
(5) Defendant has committed past criminal felonies
Prior to being interrogated by the police, a criminal defendant must be given certain warnings outlined in Miranda v. Arizona. In that case, the United States Supreme Court found that obtaining an incriminating statement from a criminal defendant will not be admissible unless the defendant was properly Mirandized.
The Miranda warning requires that police officers advise a suspect of the following: (1) the right to remain silent, (2) that anything the suspect says may be used against him, (3) that he has the right to the assistance of an attorney, and (4) that counsel will be appointed for him should he be unable to afford the services of an attorney.
What Rights Does A Criminal Defendant Have?
A criminal defendant has a number of rights under our Federal Constitution. First and foremost is the presumption that he is innocent and the burden placed on the prosecutor to establish the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
A Criminal Defendant’s Right to be Free From Compelled Self-Incrimination
The Fifth Amendment of the Federal Constitution provides a prohibition against a defendant’s being compelled to be a witness against himself in a criminal case. Pursuant to this Amendment, a defendant may not be required to speak when doing so would incriminate him. A witness may plead the Fifth Amendment by refusing to answer a question when doing so would incriminate him.
Confrontation Clause: A Criminal Defendant’s Right to Confront Witnesses Against Him
The Sixth Amendment provides criminal defendants with the right to confront witnesses and to cross examine witnesses who testify against the defendant. This gives a criminal defendant the right to question a witness who testifies against the defendant.
Sixth Amendment’s Right to Jury Trial & Right to a Speedy Trial
A criminal defendant is entitled to a jury trial when the offense charged has a sentence of more than six months. A criminal defendant also has a right to a speedy trial. Thus, the prosecutor’s case most progress smoothly and as expeditiously as possible from the filing of charges against the defendant up through trial. The intent behind this constitutional guarantee is to ensure that criminal defendants are not subjected to unnecessarily long periods of incarceration before they receive a fair trial.
Right to Assistance of an Attorney
A criminal defendant is entitled to the assistance of an attorney. Where the defendant is unable to afford an attorney, the court is required to appoint one. The defendant’s representation by counsel must be adequate.
Right Against Double Jeopardy
A criminal defendant must not be tried for the same offense more than once. This prohibition protects criminal defense from undue prejudice and harassment.
Eight Amendment Prohibition Against Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Pursuant to the Eight Amendment of the Federal Constitution, the federal government may not impose excessive bail on criminal defendants. The United States Supreme Court has held that this provision applies to the states as well.
Bail is deemed excessive if the amount is substantially more than is necessary to ensure that the criminal defendant will appear in court on the date required. However, bail may be denied in the interests of safety, the seriousness of defendant’s crime or the likelihood that the defendant will fail to appear in court.
Bail Bond Scams, The Internet & Social Media
Scams involving bail bonds are especially prevalent given the accessibility of personal information online. There have been many reports involving unscrupulous people soliciting funds from others in order to bail-out their friends or loved-ones. The “con” typically proceeds as follows. You receive a call from a person who purports to be a bail bonds agent. The agent claims that a friend or relative has been falsely imprisoned and requires a certain dollar amount in order to post bail.
The caller is able to successfully trick his victim by utilizing personal information, possibly found online through social media websites. Reports of similar scenarios have been reported in a number of states. There have been other variations such as where the caller purports to be a law enforcement official.
Understand that a bail bonds agent will not call you soliciting money for a friend or loved-one. There are typically strict state laws concerning how and under what circumstances a bail bonds agent may solicit business.
Always try contacting the person the caller claims has been placed in prison. Most jails have websites that allow you to check whether a particular person has been imprisoned in their facilities. Do not fall prey to their unscrupulous tactics!
What Rights Does An Inmate Have?
If you are faced with the possibility of being incarcerated, it is important to know your rights. This is equally applicable to the loved ones and friends of a person faced with doing time behind bars. Knowing your rights enables you to make informed and intelligent choices.
The Prison Litigation Reform Act
The Prison Litigation Reform Act is a piece of Congressional legislation that may limit an inmate’s rights. This Act places the following constraints on inmates’ rights:
Defendants Who Skip Bail & How Bail Bonds Agents Locate Them
In some unfortunate instances, defendants who have been extended the funds necessary to post bail by a bail bonds agent jump bail and thereby become a fugitive. Since bail bonds agents have a monetary interest in locating the fugitive and ensuring that he or she adheres to court requirements, bail bonds agents have developed a variety of ways of finding a fugitive.
At the outset of the bail bonds process, the application materials typically require a great deal of personal information about a particular defendant. In many cases, bail bonds agents require that the application be filled out completely prior to providing bail bond services to a defendant.
The application form typically involves providing personal data and occupational information, both of which are geographically specific. This enables the bail bonds agent to locate the defendant should he or she need to contact them. It is customary for a defendant to provide information concerning his or her credit history, current and past occupational history, as well as the defendant’s current and past residences. Additional information often includes the names, addresses and phone numbers of family and friends.
This information will prove invaluable to a bail bonds agent and a bail bonds enforcement specialist should the defendant attempt to escape justice, as a fugitive. Depending on the state and the particular set of circumstances, a bail bonds agent may utilize the services of a bail bonds enforcement specialist or a skip tracer.
Skip tracing specialists work with bail bonds agents because the process of skip tracing helps hone in on a fugitive’s whereabouts, thereby allowing for the fugitive’s capture and future compliance with the terms of the bail bond agreement.
Generally speaking, skip tracing is merely the systematic accumulation of data. Deep analysis of the data allows a skip tracer, and therefore a bail bonds enforcement agent, to find the fugitive and ensure his or her apprehension. Common tactics employed by many skip tracers include contacting a fugitive’s friends, neighbors and colleagues in order to gain intelligence on the fugitive’s behavior and whereabouts. In order to obtain the fugitive’s compliance with the terms of the bail bond agreement, skip tracers also analyze credit reports as well as bank account information and bills in order to track down a fugitive.
A skip tracer may be employed either by a bounty hunter or a bail bonds agent. In either case, the objective of the skip tracer is to ascertain the location of the fugitive in order to increase the chances of his or her capture. After all, the fugitive’s capture is necessary in order to ensure that the bail bonds agent is able to secure its investment in extending a bail bond to the defendant.