While numbers have come down since previous years, the USA still has the highest incarceration rate in the world, according to a report released by the World Prison Brief. With a total prison population of 2,068,800 in 2019, the need for bail bond agents isn’t going away.
Getting arrested can happen for many reasons, and if one doesn’t have the funds available to post bail, they have two options: stay in jail until the hearing, or turn to a bail bonds agent.
But what exactly does a bail bondsman do? If you’re interested in learning more, keep reading as we explain the roles of bail bond agents.
What Are Bail Bonds?
Bail is the act of releasing a suspect for an agreed-upon sum of money. This money is to ensure that the defendant will appear at their next court date. This money gets returned to the defendant should they attend all hearings and court dates.
It’s a rare occurrence, if it happens at all, that a bank or other financial institution will loan money for bail, which is where bail bond agencies come in.
How bail is determined is by several contributing factors. Primarily it’s based on the seriousness of the crime; however, past criminal records, employment, and close ties to the community are also considered before setting an amount.
How Do They Work?
Upon being arrested, the accused is given a court date and, if it’s suspected that they won’t appear for court, bail is set at a certain amount. Then, either the arrested or their family/friends can post bail for their release so they won’t have to remain in jail until their first court hearing.
Should it happen that no one can afford the bail amount, then hiring a bail bond agent can help at this point. They will cover the total amount for bail, and all the accused need do in return is show up at all necessary court appearances.
Suppose the accused chooses to skip any appearances. In that case, the bail bondsman will become a bounty hunter, which involves finding the accused and returning them to the court within an allocated grace period.
In the event of a “skipped bail” situation, in effect, the agency will take over the collateral acting as security for the bail bond from the friend or relative acting on behalf of the accused, also known as Bail Forfeiture.
Types of Bonds
Bail bonds don’t only come as one-size-fits-all. There are, in fact, a variety of bonds that the courts can impose. These are:
- Cash Bond
- Surety Bond
- Property Bond
- Federal Bail Bond
- Immigration Bail Bond
- Citation Release
- Personal Recognizance Release
Each varies in its application. For example, a Personal Recognizance Release might be granted for minor crimes, whereas a Federal Bail Bond is given for more significant crimes like fraud, kidnapping, and bank robberies. Additionally, extra collateral is often needed for this type of bail.
Roles and Responsibilities of Bail Bond Agents
Working for an agency or independently, a bail bond agent’s role is to complete paperwork related to the bond with the accused, receive all payments attached to the bond agreement, ensure the accused appears in court, and if the accused fails to appear in court, track them down.
Let’s review the roles and responsibilities in more detail.
The first role a bail bondsman has is to assess the client. The bondsman considers these essential factors of the accused:
- Credit score
- Chances of being a flight risk
- Any previous infractions of the court
The bondsman also has to investigate whether the client can ultimately pay the bail bond fee or not. Once these have been assessed, the bail bonds agent ultimately determines whether the accused is responsible enough to abide by court-set conditions and reliable enough to attend all court proceedings.
2. Administrator: Handling Paperwork
Once the bond application has been given the all-clear and been approved, the client has to pay the bail bond agent a fee. This amount is typically 10% of the total bail amount.
Once this fee has been paid, the remainder of the paperwork is completed. This includes forms for credit card authorization, bail conditions, indemnity agreement, surety-bail disclosure, etc.
The bail bonds agent must also explain the bail bond legalities to the client to fully understand what’s required of them for the best chance at success.
3. Communicator: The Middleman
If not working independently, a bail bond agent acts as the middleman between the client and the agency. They also are the middleman between the client and the court. In most cases, after establishing an amount, defendants will often desire bail release as fast as possible.
For commission payments and to retain employment, agents must also submit documentation and receipts to the agency within a specific timeframe, typically 24 hours.
4. Bail Bond Enforcement Agent aka “Bounty Hunter”
The most common role of a bail bond agent is being a bail bond enforcement agent, or “bounty hunter.” In the event that the defendant does not appear for his scheduled hearings, the bail bond enforcement agent communicates this with the court.
Upon failure to appear in court, the bail bondsman may arrest fugitives and, in their capacity as the defendant’s representatives, bail bond agents bring the defendant back to the courthouse.
How Much Do Bail Bond Agents Make?
When it comes to the bail bond agent, salary varies widely from state to state.
PayScale.com reports that, as of June 2021, the overall median salary for bail bond agent jobs was about $41,116. And, looking at North Carolina, Salary.com reported that as of February 2022, the average Bail Bondsman salary in Raleigh, NC is $40,545.
Other factors can offer a salary supplementation, like bail percentage commission, tax credits and deductions, additional fees (flight risk or extra services) in the case of a bail bond agent.
For bounty hunters, they apply factors like commission percentage, out-of-state fees, travel and lodging fees, and any costs for personal risk.
Become a Bail Bonds Agent Today
The job of bail bond agents can be incredibly rewarding, as they can assist in financing bail that would otherwise not be possible for many defendants. This career requires a great deal of passion, creativity, empathy, understanding, and resourcefulness.
With your own bail bond company, it also offers the freedom, as your own boss, to decide your schedule and daily tasks, allowing more time for family and other aspects of life.
If you’re interested in how to become a bail bonds agent in North Carolina, visit us to apply now, and we will help you get started on the best new phase of your career.