What is a Bail Bond?
What is a Bail?
To understand what a bail bond is we must first understand what bail is. The Websters dictionary defines bail as:
The temporary release of a prisoner in exchange for security given for the prisoner's appearance at a later hearing.
It's quite simple, the defendant says he wants to get out of jail till the trial. The judge has to consider whether or not the defendant will show-up for the trial. So the judge says you have to put up something to loose in case skip town. If the judge feels that the defendant will not show up for trial no matter what, he may deny bail and keep the defendant in custody till the trial.
So, how does a judge calculate the mail amount? Most jurisdictions has a bail scale chart that was made by the their judicial branch of government. Most also allow total flexibility in how the judge may interpret the chart, and usually supply a sliding scale and formulas to help him get the right amount for each crime and each defendant.
Now we know what bail is.
So the judge just told you that your bail is $30,000. If you have the money you can take it out of the bank and post your bail. For the average Joe that's a lot of green. That's when the bail bondsman comes in.
What is a Bond?
Now for the second part of the term of bail bond, “Bond”. Websters says a bond is:
- A binding agreement.
- Something that binds or restrains.
- A binding agreement.
- A uniting or binding element or force.
- An obligation made binding by a forfeit of money; also : the amount of the money guarantee.
- The systematic lapping of brick in a wall.
- The state of goods made, stored, or transported under the care of an agency until the duties or taxes on them are paid.
- A 100-proof straight whiskey aged at least four years under government supervision before being bottled — called also bonded whiskey.
Number 5 is the one that we're looking at. With a bond, you make a agreement to pay the money. It's kind of like an I.O.U., only with fees involved. The fees on a bond not only change per state, but also the type of bond. Most fees are regulated the same as any other insurance agency. That's because the bond agency is actually a insurance company. You buy an insurance policy that you will show up in court on the day they say, at the time they say. If you don't show up to court, the bond agency can be responsible for the total amount of the bail. That's why they want collateral or co-signers.
So, Why should I get a bail bond if it's going to cost me money?
There are a few good reasons to get a bail bond rather than pay the bail up front. First of all, it's a lot of money. Some bails can be as much as $5,000,000. Not many of have that much equity, let a loan that much liquid capital. So buying a bail bond may be the only way to get out of jail. Secondly, even if you had the money sitting in the bank, do you really want to empty your bank account to see the sun a few more days. What are you going to live off of during that time, and what about paying your legal defense. Most often I would say, “Get A Bail Bond!” it just makes sense.
Are there different types of bail bonds?
Yes, bail bonds can be divided into 3 main categories, surity bonds, federal bonds, and immigration bonds.
Surity Bail Bonds
Surity bonds are what you normally think of when you think of bail bonds. If your in a local, county or state jail your probably looking for a bondsman to get a surity bond. When you purchase these types of bond, the bondsman puts up the entire amount of the bond and guarantees that the defendant will show up in court. Most states will discount the bail for bondsmen in order to lower their risk. These are the lowest of risk for bondsman. In most states the fees for these bonds are regulated by the state and range from 8 to 20 percent of the bail.
Just like buying a car or a home, the bondsman must ascertain his risk in the transaction. One of the ways that bondsmen lower their risk is with collateral. A bondsman may ask for security like valuables or real estate from the defendant or a co-signer.
Federal Bail Bonds
If you've been charged with a federal crime, you'll be needing federal bail bond. Federal bonds come with riders, add-ons to the agreement that you will show up in court. At your bond hearing you'll be given a list of what the court expects of you while out on bond. These restrictions can limit your business activities, mandatory drug testing, and the notorious “Don't leave town”, just to name a few. And again, if the defendants doesn't fallow the restrictions, he may loose his entire bail.
As you can already see, these bonds are higher risk, and so the fees on federal bail bonds are quite a bit higher than surity bail bonds. And to add to that, not all bondsmen will handle them because of the risk.
Immigration Bail Bonds
Immigration bail bonds are a special form of federal bail bond. They needed for an immigrant who is in custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This federal agency may place you in holding at a local or county jail, but you are still in their custody.
It's believed that they are the highest risk if all the bail bonds because immigrants are not as tied to the area. They're already trying to stay under the radar so whats one more thing to hide from. This added risk has caused a shortage in bondsmen that will issue them, and when they do, it's at a premium. Your typical immigration bail bond can cost as much as 5% over the cost of a standard federal bail bond.
I hope that this has answered your question “What is a bail bond?”. If you have any other questions or need expansion on what was covered here, please give Luck Bail Riverside a call. We're available on our 24hr bail bond hotline 24/7.