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What Is a Surety Bond?

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A surety bond is a bond that is backed by an insurance company or the bondsman. If the defendant has a surety bond, a non-refundable premium is due on the bond. This is a percentage of the bond, usually 10 percent. Different surety companies may require different amounts.

There are generally three people involved in a surety bond: The principal is the defendant, the obligee is the government or arresting agency on behalf of the government, and the surety is the bondsman. If the defendant skips, the bounty hunter becomes the surety.

If the defendant’s bond is set at $10,000, and the percentage is set at 10 percent, he or she will have to pay the bondsman $1,000 up front. This $1,000 is non-refundable. The bondsman or the surety company covers the remainder of the bond. Generally, when arrested, the defendant contacts a family member or friend to “bond him or her out.” The family member or friend contacts a bondsman. When the family member or friend signs the paperwork and pays the deposit (or premium), a contract is created between the bondsman and the family member or friend. The family member or friend becomes a cosigner on the contract.

A bondsman can revoke a surety bond at any time he feels compelled to. If, based upon information and belief, he or she thinks the defendant may skip bail, he or she can revoke the bond and turn the defendant over to the original arresting agency before the defendant has a chance to skip. If a defendant skips, the surety company pays the bond to the arresting agency, and the bondsman must repay the surety company the balance of the bond. The bondsman will then attempt to recover that amount from the cosigner. The bondsman will also contract bounty hunters to find the defendant and return him or her to the arresting agency.

In many cases where the bail is a high bail, or if the defendant is likely to skip, the bondsman will require the cosigner to secure the surety with property. The property must be worth at least the amount of the bail or more. The cosigner’s home is generally used, if the cosigner owns a home. A lien is put on the home, and if the defendant skips, the bondsman may begin foreclosure proceedings. This is different from a property bond, in that the guarantee that the defendant does not skip is backed only by property, not by a surety bond secured by property.

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