Bail Bondsmen

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What Is Bail?

Bail is a piece of property, typically money, that is deposited with a court as a guarantee that a defendant will voluntarily appear for all court appearances. During a criminal prosecution, the accused is entitled to make an application for bail through a bail hearing.

When bail is paid, the defendant is released from jail during the duration of the trial. If the defendant has met the conditions of the bail agreement (this typically means showing up for all court appearances), the bail is returned to the defendant at the end of the trial, regardless of whether they are found guilty or not guilty. However, if the defendant violates the terms of a bail agreement, the court will keep the bail when the trial is over.

What Is a Bail Bondsman?

A bail bondsman is a person or company who puts up, or posts, bail for a defendant. Typically, they charge 10% of the total bail amount. So, if bail is set at $10,000, the defendant pays the bondsman $1,000, who then deposits the total bail amount, $10,000 in this case, with the court. The bail bondsman then keeps the $1,000 when the trial is over. This is very useful for a person who wants to be free before and during the trial, but does not have the cash on hand to pay the full bail amount.

However, this arrangement makes bail bondsmen liable for 90% of the bail amount. If the defendant fails to show up to court, they lose all of that money. For this reason, they often employ bail enforcement agents, more commonly known as bounty hunters, to capture anyone who flees while, or skips out, on bail . In most states, bail bondsmen and bounty hunters are strictly regulated in order to prevent excessive violence from being used against the defendant.

Four states have banned commercial bail bonds. Those states are Illinois, Kentucky, Oregon, and Wisconsin. In these states, courts frequently offer an alternative to paying the full bail amount for those defendants that cannot afford to pay it. These courts usually accept a cash deposit of 10% of the total bail amount, with the agreement that the defendant will have to pay the full amount if they violate the terms of the bail agreement.

Seeking Legal Help

If you need assistance handling a criminal issue or obtaining a bail bond, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.

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Last Modified: 12-03-2013 01:03 PM PST

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