Did you know that bail agents are an integral part of the criminal justice system? While their work may not be glamorous, they can make a tremendous difference in someone’s life. However, if you’re looking to get into the bail industry, it’s important that you know all the bail bond terms.
You’ve been in the business for a while now, but you still find yourself asking clients what “per diem” means. How about your latest client who asked for a bail agent’s license?
It’s time to brush up on these seven terms that every bail agent should know!
What Is a Bail Bond?
A bail bond is insurance that allows an arrested individual to be released from custody until their court date. All 50 states have a commercial bail bond system where private companies guarantee the accused’s appearance at trial.
There’s no upfront payment necessary from the bail bond agency or agent in most cases. Yet, if the defendant doesn’t appear in court on their scheduled date, they owe the bondsman a fee for this service.
The vast majority of state laws governing bails and bonds follow this pattern closely, with only minor variations among each state’s statutes. There are three primary types of bail bonds:
Signature Bail Bonds
This is the most common type of bond issued in most states. If you have enough money during the arrest, the court can release you on your recognizance. You can also write a promissory note to appear at trial.
With this option, there’s no collateral required to ensure you return for all future court dates. Though this method doesn’t need collateral, they can only use collectibles through personal checks or cashier’s checks. By requiring an appearance guarantee instead of cash upfront, the bonding agency gets some flexibility where the defendant doesn’t have enough money.
Signature bonds don’t need you or your business and assets to be available for seizure.
“Surety” Bail Bonds
This type of bond is frequently used in complex criminal cases like murder, drug trafficking, and organized crime. These cases may involve sizeable sums of cash. More importantly, the outcome of the case could trigger either a federal or state forfeiture action.
Once you’re served with a complaint by the District Attorney’s office, you’ll have less time to act. All personal property subject to forfeiture may be taken from the defendant or third-party guarantors of the bail obligation.
Cash Bail Bonds
Sometimes, a judge may release a person arrested on bail. They can also impose a cash amount to ensure that the defendant appears for all their future court dates.
If individuals set free on their recognizance or third-party guarantors don’t appear in court, they’re responsible for the bail amount. The required cash amount can vary widely from state to state and even within different jurisdictions in a state.
For instance, one county may need $500 to meet its standard for releasing an accused person on personal recognizance without requiring supervision. Yet, another county might need $5,000 upfront before it agrees to release someone without other conditions of release.
Now that you know what’s bail bond and the types of bail bonds, here are common terms that bail bond agents should know:
This is the amount of money set by a judge to secure the release of an arrested person from custody.
The security, which includes cash or property, ensures the defendants appear in court as stated in the pretrial release. It assures the accused person does not flee before trial. Besides, it’s proof that the accused will show up in all necessary court appearances once released from jail.
2. Bail Schedule
A bail schedule is an organized list of all crimes and corresponding bail amounts for a particular court. It’s what you’ll want to give your client when they ask how much it’s going to cost to get out of jail.
This is the process that begins when a defendant fails to appear in court for their assigned hearings. During this time, an agency will try working with the defendant’s family and friends on finding them.
If nothing works, the next step is issuing a warrant for their arrest. It can lead to additional fees on top of their bond.
4. Pretrial release
This is the defendant’s release from jail without posting money bail or after depositing a small percentage of the total amount needed to secure their release.
People with previous accusations of serious crimes don’t qualify for pretrial releases. This is unless they can prove they’re not a flight risk and will show up in court when needed.
Most defendants released on their recognizance must meet with pretrial agents before going home. Here, they’ll be fitted with electronic monitoring devices that track their whereabouts. Pretrial services officers also work to determine whether defendants will pose a threat to victims.
The amount initially agreed upon between the defendant and the bail agent is referred to as the premium. It’s non-refundable, even if a defendant fails to appear in court or violates any condition of release.
6. Bail Bondsman
This term refers to the person who writes a bail bond, pledging to the court that you’ll appear in all future proceedings. This is if you’re released from jail within 24 hours of your arrest.
If you fail to show up for any hearing or trial, the bail bondsman will forfeit the money they paid out to get you out of jail. Unless you pay them back before that time, the bail will remain forfeited.
Once this happens, they’ll hire a bounty hunter to track down and return them for their money.
7. Bail Bond Surrender
This is the process of turning yourself into authorities after you have been released from jail on bond. If you don’t show up to court, they’ll forfeit the amount submitted. They’ll also seek court permission to pick you up so they can get their money back.
Become a Bail Bond Agent Now!
Bail bonds are a necessary but often overlooked service. Knowing the right terms and understanding how bail bond agents help clients can make all the difference when you or someone close to you needs out of jail fast.
Want to become a bail bond agent but don’t know where to start? At Amistad & Associates, we’re not only a bail bonds agency but can help you get your bail bond license. Apply with us today to get started.