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Bail Bonds Explained

Bail Bonds

Bail bonds are for getting out of or avoiding jail. When a person is arrested, he is taken to jail. Bail may or may not be set, depending on the alleged crime. If bail is not set, the defendant may be able to get out on his own recognizance. If the crime is particularly heinous, if the defendant is a repeat offender, or if there is reason to deem him a continuing danger to himself or others, bail may not be set, in which case the defendant will not be allowed to be released on recognizance.

Once a bail amount is set, the individual who was arrested or a third party (usually a family member or friend) can contact a bondsman. The third party becomes a cosigner and makes a contract with the bondsman to bail the individual out of jail for a set amount of money. Bail can be a cash bond, a surety bond, or a property bond.

Cash Bail Bonds

If a cash bond is placed on the defendant, the entire amount of the bond must be paid in order for the defendant to leave jail. If the defendant or third party does not have the entire amount of the cash bond, he can contact a bondsman. Some bondsmen will cover the cash bond for a fee.

Surety Bail Bonds

If a surety bond is placed on the defendant, the bondsman requires a premium on the bond. The premium is a percentage of the total bond, usually ten percent.

Property Bail Bonds

If a property bond is used, the defendant or a family member or friend must put up property for the bond. The court will put a lien on the property until the defendant is released from further court hearings or goes back to jail to serve his sentence.

If a defendant posts bond but does not show up to scheduled hearings, a warrant will be issued for his arrest. Unless he is recaptured within the time constraints dictated by state statute, the bondsman is responsible for paying the entire bond. The bondsman will make every attempt to collect the bond from the cosigner on the bond contract. He will also send bounty hunters to track the defendant down. Once the defendant is found, he is returned to jail, and in most circumstances, because he proved himself a flight risk, he will not be allowed to bond out again.

While a bondsman may back a surety bond if he has the liquid cash, these are usually backed by an insurance company. If a defendant has a high surety bond, the bondsman may also request that the defendant or a cosigner put up property as collateral to secure the bond. Should the defendant skip bail, the bondsman will have a lien on the home or other property used and may start foreclosure proceedings. The proceedings from the foreclosure sale will replace the bondsman’s cash. If an insurance company is involved, the bondsman pays the insurance company the balance due on the bond, then collects the amount due from the defendant or his cosigner.

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