Are you interested in the bail industry? To get started, you must know some key bail terms such as bail, bond, collateral, and forfeiture.
You must also know the different types of bonds to consider: cash bond, property bond, and surety bond. Cash and property bonds usually don’t apply to bond agents, but they’re important terms to learn.
This article will highlight some key terms if you want to start a bail bonds business. Read further to know more.
What Is a Bail Bondsman?
A bail bondsman is a person or company that pays bail money for a defendant. Bail agents are crucial if defendants don’t have enough money to pay the bail.
Additionally, you’re vouching for the character of the defendant. You’re telling the court the client will meet the bond terms and attend court hearings.
What Is Bail?
Bail is the money defendants pay to get out of jail. The court imposes bail to make sure defendants show up for court hearings. The bail amount primarily depends on the nature of the crime.
The court will hold onto the bail throughout the trial phase. If the defendant follows the rules and receives a not guilty verdict, the court will return the money.
Bail vs Bond
Bond and bail are often used interchangeably, but there are some key differences. Whereas bail is money a defendant must pay to get out of jail, bond occurs when someone pays the bail for the defendant.
Anyone can pay the bail if they have the money. Friends or family members often pay the bail, but there are times when they cannot afford to do so.
This is where bond agents are crucial. As an aspiring agent, you will post the bail for the client.
When you pay the bail, the defendant must follow certain rules. Most notably, the defendant must agree to appear in court when necessary. Since you posted bail on behalf of the defendant, you’re responsible for their actions.
If a defendant skips a court hearing, the court will issue a bench warrant for their arrest. Plus, the court will require the bond agent to pay the full bond amount.
You can also send a bond employee to search for the defendant. If you bring back the defendant in due time, you may not have to pay the full bond amount.
Besides court mandates, defendants usually must abide by the following rules:
- Obeying all laws while on bond
- Submitting to regular drug/alcohol testing
- Staying away from drugs and alcohol
- Getting rid of all weapons inside the home
- Maintaining stable employment
- Staying within travel parameters established by the court
If the defendant violates any of these terms, the judge has several options. They could issue a warning, impose stricter bail terms, issue a bench warrant, or revoke the bail altogether.
There are three main types of bonds in North Carolina to consider:
A cash bond occurs when the defendant pays the entire amount in cash. Defendants can also use a co-signer to post a cash bond.
A cash bond is usually applicable in misdemeanor cases. The defendant will receive a refund if they attend all scheduled hearings, but the court may deduct court costs and other expenses.
Property bond comprises real estate assets. If a defendant pledges a home, for example, they will turn in the mortgage as payment.
To qualify, the property must be in North Carolina. Further, the property doesn’t need to be in the same county as the court jurisdiction. Moreover, the property value must be equal to or greater than the bail amount.
If the defendant doesn’t adhere to the bond terms, the court can seize the real estate.
Officials usually reserve surety bonds for serious offenses. Therefore, surety bonds are usually more expensive than other types of bonds.
Since many defendants cannot afford to post surety bonds, they rely on bail agents. The surety bond is a contractual relationship between the defendant and the bond company.
As the bond agent, you will guarantee the entire bond amount. However, North Carolina stipulates that agents charge a 15% premium to the defendant.
- Example: If the court establishes a $10,000 bond, the defendant would pay $1,500 to the bond agent.
Plus, the premium isn’t refundable.
Besides real estate, collateral can be in the form of jewelry, cars, or stocks. Bond collateral can be any valuable asset that the will court will accept so the defendant can post bail.
The court can seize the pledged asset if the defendant doesn’t show up for court hearings. Likewise, a bail agent can require upfront collateral as well. If the defendant violates the bond terms, you can keep the collateral to cover the costs of the bail.
The Forfeiture Process
Forfeiture is the official term when the defendant fails to show up to court. During this phase, the court will keep the money, and you (the bond agent) can seize the pledged collateral. Then, the court will issue a bench warrant for the defendant’s arrest.
Key Bail Terminology
The most important bail terms include surety bond, cash bond, and property bond. Further, you must know the differences between bail and bond.
The bail industry is a valuable business because many people don’t have enough funds to post bail on their own. As the bail agent, you will help them get out of jail. If they miss court dates, the judge will hold you responsible.
Want to know some money management tips for bond agents? Click here to learn more.