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A Future in the Bail Bonds Business: Guide to Understanding How Much Does a Bail Bondsman Make

You may be a fan of crime shows, or have an interest in the court system. You might also be thinking of a career change. A career as a bail bondsman might be a good fit for if you are looking for an interesting and rewarding line of work.

Bail bondsmen enjoy a variety of work experiences and travel. The industry is also steady; people enter the court system regularly, so there is always plenty of work for a bondsman.

We’re here to tell you about a career as a bail bondsman and where their income comes from.

What Exactly is a Bondsman?

When a person gets arrested for a crime, a judge decides how much money it will cost you to be released before your court date. This amount is your bail.

Bail acts as a guarantee that a defendant will actually show up in court on their appointed court date. If they show up in court like they’re directed to, they get that money back. If they do not, they forfeit their money.

Most people don’t have the full bail amount available, so they consult a bondsman to guarantee the full bail to the court. The bondsman will offer a written agreement to the defendant and collect a non-refundable premium fee of up to fifteen percent of the full bail. If the accused doesn’t show up to court, the bondsman must pay the entire bail.

Bail Variations By State

Laws covering the use of bail bondsmen can differ vastly by state. For instance, in Maine, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Oregon, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Kentucky, private bail is not allowed at all. These states require that a defendant goes through the jail system.

Some states have no maximum, but have a clause requiring that bail fees cannot be excessive, inadequate, or discriminatory. Still, others have a sliding scale or maximum amounts.

Federal courts have set their bond rates at fifteen percent, and immigration bonds are set at twenty percent.

How Do Bail Bondsmen Make Money?

There are a few ways a bail bondsman collects income. Here are some:

1. The non-refundable premium bail fee: That’s right, that fee doesn’t get refunded to the defendant if they appear in court on their court date. The bondsman keeps that fee. If the charges are dropped, the bondsman still keeps the money.

2. Payment Plan Options: Sometimes the defendant’s family or friends can’t afford the premium bail fee, so many bondsman can work out payment plan options depending on qualifications.

3. Collateral: The defendant may put up property as collateral for bail. This can include real estate properties. Collateral can also include stocks, bonds, credit cards, and bank accounts. The bondsman may sell this property to recoup the bail amount lost and many times for more than what was originally paid if permitted by state laws.

How Much Does a Bail Bondsman Make?

Before a person can become a bondsman, they must be trained and licensed, pass a written exam and be fingerprinted. The state’s own department of insurance issues the license. They must pass a written exam and and in some states put up a personal surety bond of $5,000.

Similar to the states’ laws, a bondsmen’s salary can vary widely. Most starting their careers will make $25,000-$30,000 the first year, but with some experience, can earn an average of $55,000.

  • You can enjoy a rewarding career as a bail bondsman by helping both the judicial system and people in trouble. We can help you get started with your business and give you the tools and knowledge to succeed in your new career. Check out our resources and knowledge base to see how we can help you.