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How Does a Bail Bond Company Make Money?

Bail Bonds

To understand how a bail bond company makes money, you need to know a little bit about the bail bond system. While there are some different rules and procedures in states around the country, the process of dealing with a bail bond company is largely the same.

  • Get arrested. It starts when you - the defendant- get arrested. The process, for purposes of this explanation, also starts with the assumption that the arrest isn't so minor that you are only issued a citation and not so serious that you aren't allowed bail. For everything in between, you are brought to jail and processed. After you are processed, a judge or magistrate sets a bail for your crime.
  • You can't afford bail. Let's say the bail is $10,000 - not a very high amount, but generally indicative of something more than a simple misdemeanor. If you don't have $10,000, you get in touch with a bail bond company so that you don't have to stay in jail until the first court hearing for your case.
  • Sign bail agreement. The bail bond company is very much like an insurance company. In this case, the company will agree to be on the hook for your entire bail, while you need only to pay a small percentage, usually 10 percent. Bail bond companies have standing relationships with various courts and the judge trusts that the defendant will show up or the bail bond company will pay the entire amount of the bond. You free to leave jail, with the expectation that you will return for all the court hearings in your criminal case.

Showing Up for Court Makes Money for the Bail Bond Company

In the majority of cases, about 8 out of 10 according to some court experts, the defendant returns to court as promised. Once the case is resolved one way or another, you never get the 10 percent back that you paid for the bail bond company. That's one of the ways the bail bond company makes money. Some bail bond companies also offer financing alternatives to defendants who can't afford the 10 percent for their bail. That financing business is another way that bail bond companies earn money.

What Happens to the Bail Bond Company if You Don't Show up in Court?

That's a complication that could cause the bail bond company to lose the entire bond. Some bail bond companies have their own investigators - often called bounty hunters - who search for defendants who don't show up for their court hearings. The bounty hunter then searches for the defendant and receives a fee by returning the defendant to jail.

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