What is a Bail Bond?
A bail bond acts as a three-party contract between the court, the defendant, and a surety. It allows the defendant to be released from custody during the pendency of criminal charges. The complicated part of this equation is: what makes up a surety? Taken as a whole, the surety is the party that assumes the financial risk of guaranteeing the defendant’s appearance in court. But, the surety is not a single party, instead, it is a joined party consisting of the bail agent (representing a surety company), and the defendant’s co-signers.
How It Works
- The defendant, having been arrested and not wishing to remain in jail, seeks help through the bail agent, his friends, or his family.
- The bail agent consults with the defendant’s friends or family, explains what is needed, what is at stake, and what the next steps are.
- Assuming the friends or family wish to help the defendant, they execute an agreement with the bail agent that guarantees payment of the premium and that the defendant will make all appearances.
- If the defendant does not appear in court, the friends or family that have co-signed for the defendant help the bail agent find the defendant.
- The co-signers are responsible for any costs of returning the defendant to the court, or if the defendant could not be returned, then they are responsible for the full amount of the bail.
How Much Does a Bail Bond Cost?
The cost of a bail bond, the premium, is usually 10% of the bail amount. For example, if the bail amount is $10,000 then the premium would be $1,000. Romelli Bail Bonds is one of the few bail agencies that can offer an 8% premium rate in certain circumstances: If the defendant or co-signer is (1) a union member; (2) an active or retired member of the Armed Services; (3) a senior citizen; or (4) the defendant is represented by a private attorney.
What Am I Agreeing to if I Co-sign?
The co-signor is guaranteeing that the defendant will make all of his or her court appearances. If the defendant does not live up to his or her obligation to the court than the co-signor is responsible for any financial liabilities that may result. These include the costs involved in returning the defendant to custody, filing fees, attorney’s fees, and in the worst case, the full amount of the bond.
How is the Bail Amount Determined?
The bail amount is set by the judge or panel of judges in the county where the alleged offense occurred.
Do I Get My Money Back?
It depends on what money was given and for what purpose. In every case, premium is required to be paid, and, since premium is the fee for service, it is not returnable. On the other hand, collateral is sometimes required. Collateral can be in the form of a deed of trust against real property, the pink slip to a car, or cash. If collateral was pledged to secure the bail bond, and the defendant successfully met all of his or her obligations, and there are no monies owed to the Bail Agency, than the collateral is returned to the person who pledged it.
What if the Defendant Doesn’t Go to Court?
If the defendant does not appear in court when required to do so, the court will forfeit the bond. Unless the defendant is returned to the jurisdiction of the court within a specified time, the full amount of the bond must be paid. In cases where the defendant’s non-appearance was a mistake, and the defendant cooperates with the Bail Agent to correct the mistake, the matter can be cleared up relatively easily with little or no costs involved. If, on the other hand, the defendant does not cooperate, than the Bail Agent and co-signor must take immediate steps to “cure” the forfeiture, including the hiring of a bail investigator. The co-signor is responsible for all the costs involved.
Bail Education Video