Frequently Asked Questions
BAR BREAKERS BAIL
Q - What is Bail?
A - The term Bail is used in several distinct senses: (1) It may mean the security-cash or bond-given for the appearance of the prisoner. (2) It may mean the bondsman (i.e., the person who acts as surety for the defendant's appearance, and into whose custody the defendant is released). (3) As a verb, it may refer to the release of the defendant (he was bailed out). The first meaning is the most common and should be employed for clarity.
Q - What is the fee/charge/premium paid for a typical bail bond ?
A - Bail bond premiums schedule in most states is 10% or $100.00 whichever is greater.
Example: A $250.00 bond would cost $100.00 and a $2000.00 bond would cost a premium of $200.00.
Admission to bail is the order of a competent court that the defendant be discharged from actual custody upon bail. The discharge on bail is accomplished by the taking of bail (i.e., the acceptance by the court or magistrate of security-either an undertaking or deposit-for the appearance of the defendant before a court for some part of the criminal proceeding).
Bail is evidenced by a bond or recognizance, which ordinarily becomes a record of the court. The bond is in the nature of a contract between the state on one side and the defendant and his sureties on the other. The agreement basically is that the state will release the defendant from custody the sureties will undertake that the defendant will appear at a specified time and place to answer the charge made against him. If the defendant fails to appear, the sureties become the absolute debtor of the state for the amount of the bond.
Q - When talking about bail, what do you mean by the term undertaking?
A - An undertaking is a permissible type of bail security. The taking of bail consists of a competent court accepting an undertaking of sufficient security for the appearance of the defendant, according to the terms, or the surety will pay a specified sum to the state. Corporate sureties are commonly used, and the court will accept an admitted surety insurer`s bail bond if executed by the insurer`s licensed bail agent and issued in the insurer`s name by an authorized person.
Q - Must you always use a bail bondsman?
A - The defendant, or any other person, may deposit the amount of the bond by way of cash only, at the jail the defendant is incarcerated.
Q - What is the purpose of bail?
A - The purpose of bail is to assure the attendance of the defendant, when his or her presence is required in court, whether before or after conviction. Bail is not a means of punishing a defendant, nor should there be a suggestion of revenue to the government.
Q - Is bail a matter of right?
A - Although the right to bail has constitutional recognition in the prohibition against excessive bail, bail is not always a matter of right. However, with certain exceptions a defendant charged with a criminal offense shall be released on bail. Persons charged with capital crimes when the facts are evident or the presumption of guilt great, are excepted from the right to release on bail. However, a defendant charged with a capital crime is entitled to a bail hearing in the trial court to determine whether the facts are evident or the presumption great. A crime is a capital offense if the statute makes it potentially punishable by death or life imprisonment, even if the prosecutor / government has agreed not to seek the death penalty. It is presumed that the risk of flight of the defendant is great when he or she is facing death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Q - What is considered by the Court in fixing the amount of the bail?
A - The amount of the bail is primarily within the discretion of the judge or magistrate, with only two general limitations: First: The purpose of bail is not to punish, but only to secure the appearance of the defendant, and it should be fixed with that in mind. Second: Excessive bail, not warranted by the circumstances. Is not only improper but a violation of constitutional rights. In fixing the amount of the bail, the court takes into consideration the seriousness of the charge, the defendant's previous criminal record, and the probability of the defendant appearing at the trial or hearing.
Additionally, if public safety is an issue, the court may make an inquiry where it may consider allegations of injury to the victim, threats to the victim or a witness, the use of a deadly weapon, and the defendant's use or possession of controlled substances. A judge or magistrate setting bail in other than a scheduled or usual amount must state on the record the reasons and address the issue of threats made against a victim or a witness. The court must also consider evidence offered by the detained person regarding ties to the community and ability to post bond. The bail amount set by the court must be the minimum amount of bail that would reasonably assure the defendant's appearance. NOT the Maximum!
Q - Does the bail bond continue forever, can you get it back?
A - When the bail has served its purpose, the surety will be exonerated (i.e., released from the obligation). Exoneration normally occurs when the proceeding is terminated in some way or on the return of the defendant to custody. After conviction, the defendant appears for sentence. If sentenced to imprisonment the defendant is committed to the custody of the sheriff, and the liability of the surety terminates.
Q - What if the defendant is sentenced to probation?
A - A defendant who is convicted and given probation is released from custody, and the bail must be exonerated.
Types of Bail: If arrested, what are my available release options?
There are five release options available: cash bond, surety bond, property bond, own recognizance (O.R.), and citation release.
Cash Bond: To be released on cash bail, someone must post with the court the total amount of the bail, in cash. The purpose of this is to secure his or her return to court on an appointed date, and thereafter until the case is concluded. If the defendant shows up for his/her scheduled court appearances, the cash is returned to him/her. If s/he fails to appear, the cash bond is forfeited to the court.
Surety Bond: An alternative to cash bail is the posting of a surety bond. This process involves a contractual undertaking guaranteed by an admitted insurance company having adequate assets to satisfy the face value of the bond. The bail agent guarantees to the court that they will pay the bond forfeiture if a defendant fails to appear for their scheduled court appearances. The bail agent’s guarantee is made through a surety company and/or by the pledge of property owned by the agent.
Property Bond: In rare cases an individual may obtain release from custody by means of posting a property bond with the court. Here the court records a lien on property, to secure the bail amount. If the arrestee subsequently fails to appear at the scheduled court date, the court may institute foreclosure proceedings against the property to obtain the forfeited bail amount.
Own / Personal Recognizance (O.R. / P.R.): Another method of release pending trial is through a county or law enforcement administered pre-trial release program. Usually, the staff members of these programs interview individuals in custody and make recommendations to the court regarding release of these individuals on their own recognizance (i.e., without any financial security to insure the interviewee's return).
Citation Release: This procedure, known as the "Cite Out", involves the issuance of a citation by the arresting officer to the arrestee, informing the arrestee that he or she must appear at an appointed court date. The Cite Out usually occurs immediately after an individual is arrested. Such an arrestee’s appearance in court depends exclusively upon the integrity of the arrestee and his or her voluntarily returning to court.
Q: What does “forfeiture” mean?
A: forfeiture occurs if a defendant fails to appear in court as scheduled. In this event, the bail bonds company has approximately six months to “surrender” the defendant to the court with no financial consequences. If this does not happen, the bond is payable to the court by the Bail Bonds Company.
Q: What is a “premium”?
A: A “premium” is the amount paid to a Bail bonds company for the many services and financial risks assumed by the Bail Bonds Company, on behalf of the defendant., The amount of this premium I usually 10% of the amount of the bail. This is similar to payment of any premium for an insurance policy.
Q: Are Bail Agents licensed and registered?
A: Yes, Bail Agents must undergo a background check, pass an examination, and obtain a license from the Department of Insurance in their State. To maintain the license, agents must attend continuing education classes yearly.
Q: How much does a Bail Agent Charge?
A: As per state law, a bail agent charges the amount of the premium.
Q: What is a Bail Contract and what are the main terms?
A: A Bail Contract spells out the relationship and obligations of the defendant, the court, the bail bonds company, the surety insurance company backing the bond, and the indemnitors (co-signer/s) of the bond.
Q: What is the duration of a bond?
A: A bond is in effect until the defendant completes his obligations to the court. This usually means that it ends when the defendant appears in court when scheduled and the case is concluded.
Q: What does a bail agent do for the consumer?
A: With his/her money on the line, a bail agent has a financial interest in supervising bailees (defendants), and ensuring that they appear for trial. If a defendant "skips," the bail agent has time and the financial incentive to find him/her and return him/her back to the court or jail. Significantly, commercial bail bond agents profit only when the defendant shows up for trial. At The Bail Bondsman .com, we also provide an array of social service and community resources to help the defendant and his family in numerous ways.
Q: What is “collateral”?
A: Collateral is usually supplied by relatives and friends of the defendant (called an indemnitor/s) and provides added financial security to ensure that the defendant appears in court when he or she is supposed to. Collateral can be in the form of anything of financial value that is legally pledged to back up the promise that the defendant will appear on his or her appointed court date.
Q: What happens if the defendant fails to appear?
A: This is considered a “forfeiture” Upon the breach of conditions of bond, the full amount of the bail money is due, a warrant for arrest of the defendant is issued and the indemnitor/s of the bail bond can lose their collateral. Additionally the defendant can also be charge federally and/or state for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution (UFAP) a penalty of up to five years in jail over and above any other charges pending.
Q: Is the premium paid refundable?
A: No, the premium amount is for the many service provided by the Bail Bonds Company to release the defendant from jail and make sure he appears in court. The premium is not refunded when the defendant appears in court – even if the charges are dropped. Premium is considered earned when the bond is posted and the defendant is released from the facility accepting the bail bond.
Q: when do I get my collateral back?
A: Collateral is returned to its owners immediately following the payment of all premiums and the “exoneration” of the bond by the court. Typically this takes no more than 21 days from the moment the surety is given notice of bond discharge.
Q: What does “exoneration” mean?
A: A bond is “exonerated” when the defendant appears in court as scheduled. An exoneration of bond (discharge of the bail) is typically automatic upon adjudication of guilt or innocence by the court. This means that neither the people who supplied collateral or the Bail Bonds Company has any further financial obligation to the court in reference to the defendant’s case.
Q: What is a “misdemeanor crime?
A: Misdemeanors are defined basically as crimes that are punishable by up to one year in the county jail such as petty theft and drunk driving.
Q: What is a “felony” crime?
A: Felony crimes are crimes that are punishable by one year or more in a state prison. Examples of felony crimes are rape, murder, drug possession and armed robbery.
Q: What is a defendant?
A: The person arrested and being accused of a crime, also known as the principal in a bail bond application.