If you are looking for a career where you set your own hours, be your own boss, and earn a good living, becoming a bail bondsman may be right for you. These professionals provide a valuable service of helping people accused of a crime, who cannot afford bail, get out of jail in a reasonable amount of time.
Unlike many careers, the bail bond business is something that is always needed. But the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the bail bond market, as it has almost every other one this year. With a return to normalcy, it is difficult to know what to expect for this industry in 2021.
Here are some insights into what we can anticipate for the bail bond industry in the months ahead. It also includes some information on why this career path may be right for you.
Bail Bonds Basics
More than 10 million people are arrested in the United States every year. After an arrest, a judge will set a bail amount. The severity of the charge, where the defendant lives, their past criminal history, and other factors determine the amount.
Remember that, regardless of the crime they’re accused of, every defendant is “innocent until proven guilty” under the law. This means the government cannot hold them for a crime. But bail is a kind of deposit, to ensure that the defendant shows up for their trial.
Of course, a defendant can pay the full amount of the bail, which is returned to them after the completion of the trial (minus court costs). But this often can be thousands of dollars, or more, which many people cannot afford.
This is where bail bonds agents come in. They put up surety bonds backed by insurance companies that cover the bail and, in turn, the risk of pretrial release for defendants. This also means that the bail bondsman is vouching for the defendant, that they will show up to trial.
The bondsman charges a fee, which is regulated by the state of South Carolina. They can charge no more than 15 percent of the bail. But a defendant can expect to pay at least 10 percent with most bail agencies.
Bail Bondsman Benefits
There are many advantages to becoming a bail bondsman. For starters, you can be your own boss and enjoy a flexible schedule. There may be some benefits to working unconventional hours or on weekends, but also the potential to make more money during these times.
Most bail bondsmen work a standard 40-hour week, but when and how much you work is up to you. You can even do it part-time.
As long as you have the right skills and training, there is great earning potential. The median salary for a bail bondsman in South Carolina is over $37,000 a year. But this calculation reflects all bail bondsmen working in the state, including part-time workers.
Other factors influence salary as well. Where you live in the state is one of them. Education, certifications, and experience will increase income ranges as well.
Bail bondsman salaries in South Carolina tick upwards towards $50,000 a year when you add in these factors. This is important to consider when starting your training.
Finally, working in the bail bonds business also is an opportunity to help people who may be going through a tough time. And it allows them to access their right to freedom until they return for their trial.
Impacts on the Bail Bonds Business
Last year was a tumultuous one for many industries. And the bail bonds business was no exception.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the bail bond industry in different ways. For one, due to the spread of the virus, correctional facilities across the United States released more than 16,000 people from jail this year. In South Carolina, while some “common plea” jury trials had resumed late last year, as of December 4, 2020, all jury trials were suspended in the state.
Criminal justice reform policies implemented in the last few years have had an impact on the bail bonds industry as well. Some states, for instance, have eliminated bail for misdemeanors or nonviolent felonies (although South Carolina is not one of them).
But there are many reasons to think that things are turning around. In South Carolina, courts have resumed normal hearings schedule. Some jurisdictions still hold in-person hearings (with COVID protection protocols in place). And now that there is vaccine distribution, we can expect the end of en masse prisoner release.
And, it is a sad truth, but bail bondsmen will always have jobs as long as crime persists. While South Carolina fairs well against many other states in terms of violent crime, there are many categories––like property crime––where we exceed national averages. This translates to job security for anyone looking to provide bail services.
Start Your Bail Bond Business Today
Now that you have an idea of what the bail bond business entails and what 2021 will hold for it, you can make a decision on whether it is the right career move. Remember that becoming a bail bondsman requires evaluation and licensing by the state of South Carolina. This can be an arduous process, but one that is made easier with the right direction and knowledge.
At Amistad & Associates, we walk you through the steps you will need to take, not just to become licensed, but to be a successful bail bondsman. This includes everything from how to maintain proper records to handling forfeitures and marketing your services.
We ensure that each of our agents is set up for success in the industry. In fact, we provide the state-mandated apprenticeship oversight for the first 12 months that you are on the job. We can help point you in the right direction and make sure you are established in your new career field.