A bail bond is a contract between the bail agent (bondsman), the courts and the person posting the bail (co-signer). The bail agent is the person who is responsible for the defendant showing up for all their court appearances.
Money is required by the court as an incentive to keep the defendant from fleeing once released. The bail agent gets a portion of the bond as their fee. Notes or other collateral are required to make sure that the bail agent will get paid.
The amount of money required for bail is set by the court and is dependent on the severity of the crime as well as how much of a flight risk the defendant is. The bail agent gets a percentage of the bail amount decided by the judge for that particular defendant.
The bail agent provides a guarantee to the court that the defendant will appear in court when summoned by the judge. The defendant will also have to check in regularly with the bail agent.
Bail bonds are granted when a family member or friend contacts the bail agent before the defendant is released. Arrangements are made for the posting of a bail. After an agreement is signed, the bail agent posts a bond for the amount of the bail, to guarantee the defendant’s return to court.
If the defendant fails to check in, and the bail agent or the co-signer are unable to locate the defendant, the co-signer is immediately responsible for the full amount of the bail. After the defendant is located and arrested by the bail agent, the co-signer is responsible for all of the bail agent’s expenses while looking for the defendant.
Defendants have the option of arranging for their bail through a bail bondsman or paying the court directly the full amount. When using a bail agent, the defendant provides collateral to the bail bondsman. The bail bondsman or bail bond company agent will then guarantee to pay the court if the defendant fails to appear, by posting a surety bail bond power of attorney with the jail or court.
After the defendant has completed all court appearances and the case is closed, the bail bond will be dissolved and any collateral given to the bail bondsman will be returned to the defendant or whoever posted the bond.
A co-signer always has the responsibility to ensure that the defendant appears in court as and when required. The co-signer must know the whereabouts of the defendant at all times and must immediately notify the bail bondsman if the defendant has moved.
Since the co-signer’s collateral is at risk if the defendant fails to show up as summoned, it is advised to be cautious when it comes to keeping an eye on the defendant. Remember all fees are the responsibility of the co-signer if the defendant can’t or is unwilling to pay.