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Many people are familiar with the term bail, but do you know how bail bonds work? This gives a person excellent insight into the American legal system.
When someone is suspected of a crime and is arrested by a law enforcement agency, they are then booked. It’s here that they have a mugshot taken, are fingerprinted, and a statement is taken. The accused is then either held in custody until their trial or they are released on bail. Once bail is posted, the funds are held by the court until the trial proceedings are completed. This acts as insurance to ensure that the defendant returns for court, as well as their funds– but most defendants do not have enough money to pay their bail.
After the courts determine the amount of bail for the defendant, they (the defendant) can then contact a bail bondsman to handle their case if they can’t afford bail. The bail bond agency has backing by an insurance company that permits them to pledge to pay the bond in full if the defendant fails to make court appearances. In exchange for making this payment and keeping this promise to the court, the bail bondsman collects a premium from the defendant or their friends & family. Often this premium is roughly 10% of the total bond. Additionally, the bail bondsman may request collateral– things like the title to a house or car or other valuable property that the bail bondsman can seize if the defendant fails to appear in court.
When bail is posted by a bail bondsman for a defendant, the accused party is released into the bondsman’s custody. The bail bondsman then is responsible for ensuring that the defendant appears in court. Accordingly, the bail bondsman are available to assist their clients whenever necessary; their financial interests lie with making sure defendants stay on task and keep the courts happy. This means that a bail bondsman may call in a bounty hunter– when it’s legal– to track down defendants before court dates. If things go accordingly and the defendant appears, the bail bondsman receives their funds back from the court at the conclusion of the case.