Legal Guide

What Does a Bail Bondsman Do and Why Might You Need One?

The law enforcement and justice systems are complex institutions with plenty of proverbial moving parts. Nobody wants to find themselves at the mercy of law and order – and only a few more people actually understand its full scope and breadth.

Nevertheless, in times of crisis, it can be vital to understand how select portions of the criminal justice system work. There are numerous types of occupations within the criminal justice system; many are public employees, but others are private citizens enlisted by local governments.

One such example is a bail bondsman, but what does a bail bondsman do and when may you be in need of their services? Continue reading to find out more.

What Bail Bondsmen Do

Under the American legal system, people are presumed innocent until proven guilty. This means that in between the time an individual is arrested and convicted of a crime, they have a reasonable guarantee to freedom. However, that freedom isn’t always free.

Judges can set bail, which can vary wildly depending on the circumstances. Individuals who have committed low-level offenses and who have no prior arrest records may be released without bail until their trial date. However, not everybody is afforded such a privilege.

Most cities have at least one bail bonds agency or bondsman able to provide these services. For instance, Tallahassee-based E Parker Bail Bonds is a bail bond company that offers a 10-minute bond service and multiple payment options. They also specialize in services such as out-of-state and student bond needs, as do a variety of bondsmen around the country.

Why You May Need a Bail Bond Company

As mentioned, a bail bond agency provides services to those in sticky legal situations. But who exactly is likely to require the services of a bail bondsman?

Reason #1: You Don’t Have the Cash

Bail bondsmen help bridge the gap between what an individual can pay toward his or her bail versus the amount demanded. Most people do not have thousands or even hundreds of dollars set aside for an unexpected arrest - bail bondsmen cover bail costs to help individuals get out of jail.

Depending on the case and jurisdiction, you may be required to pay the full cost of bail or be offered a 10% bail bond by the judge. Ultimately, many people may be able to obtain 10% of their bail costs if they have been arrested for a low-level offense through family members or friends. However, in situations where no such options exist, bondsmen can secure a quick release.

Reason #2: You Have a Lengthy Criminal Record

Most judges will evaluate criminal records of the accused when determining whether to set bond. Individuals who have been perpetually in trouble with local law enforcement generally are not treated with the same level of leniency as first-time offenders, often necessitating bail bonds agency services.

However, if the crime in question is minor and there are no instances of felonious convictions on the person’s record, then the bail amount will likely be low enough that a bail bond agency can assist.

Reason #3: You’ve Been Accused of a Major Crime

Regardless of past record, some criminal charges may affect whether bail is offered, how much it will be and under what circumstances it must be met. While meeting a $500 bail requirement might be possible for some accused, a $50,000 bail can be an entirely different story.

The type of crime affects the bail amount in particularly serious circumstances. For somebody who doesn’t pose an inherent flight risk – but nevertheless the court considers it to be risky to allow them to remain free – a much larger bail may be asked as a deterrent from them being able to bail out in the first place. While somebody isn’t necessarily going to live a life on the run due to a minor shoplifting charge, an armed robbery charge could very well be a different story.

As such, you may require financial services in the form of bail bonds if you have been charged with a crime (in particular, a felony).

Other Facts About the Jail Bonds Process

First, it’s important to understand that the bail bonds services offered by companies are not free. In many situations, expect to pay a bail bondsman anywhere from 10-15 percent of the total bail amount as the cost of doing business. Regardless of the outcome, you do not get this money back.

In the event a defendant does not show up for their trial date(s), the bondsman will become liable for their bail costs given the bail bond agency vouched for the defendant to the court. Because of this, a bail bonds company can enlist the services of a bounty hunter to locate the defendant and apprehend them. This ensures that the bail bond agency is no longer liable for those bail costs.

A Vital Service

Nobody wants to be in a position where jail bonds are an issue. However, when and if you are, the services of a bondsman may be required to ensure your freedom prior to your trial date. Now that you’re familiar with what the average bail bond company does and who can benefit, you’ll be better informed if their services are ever necessary.

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