How Much is Bail?
Bail amounts in Florida can range anywhere from a thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands (and more in some situations) depending on the degree of crime the inmate is accused of. Obviously, most of the people who are arrested do not have that kind of money available. That’s where the benefits of a bail bondsman come into play.
What Does a Bail Bondsman Do?
A bail bond agent takes care of the entire sum of bail demanded by the court for an inmate’s eligibility for pretrial release in exchange for a small portion of the full bail amount. In most cases, a friend or family member who is age 18 or older with a valid ID contacts the bondsman on the inmate’s behalf (this is referred to as ‘the indemnitor’).
Upon the indemnitor’s completion of the bail bond application and the processing of payment, the bondsman signs and submits a surety bond with the court system promising that the defendant will be sure to appear for all court proceedings required. Therefore, the bail bond agency is taking on the responsibility for the defendant’s presence in court.
What Happens When You Skip Bail?
Most criminal defendants are responsible enough to know to dutifully attend all their court dates stated within their inmate release. However, in some cases, the defendant believes it is to his benefit to skip town and go as far away as possible in order to escape the impending punishment. When this happens, the bail bond company is put in a position to collect the defendant and return him to jail.
If a criminal defendant chooses to go his own way and not show up for a court date, the bonding agency is forced to pay the entire amount of bail originally required by the court. Not only will the defendant be pushing his luck with the bail bond agency, but his failure to appear mark also will be added to his criminal record along with added on fines and more trouble. In addition, the indemnitor who helped to bail him out from jail will also be held responsible to help pay the full bail amount to the court. If any collateral was used for the inmate release, that amount will also be forfeited.
How Do Bonds Work?
Bail bond agencies go to great lengths to avoid bonding out potential clients who appear to be a high risk for fleeing (aka: skipping bail). Bail bond agents are in business to help release inmates for a significantly smaller amount than what the court demands. But they are not willing to take a risk of losing large sums of money.
What is a Bounty Hunter?
It has been estimated that almost 20% of defendants released on pretrial make a run for it. This is where bounty hunters come into the scene. Some bail bondsmen play the part of both the bail agent and also the bounty hunter. But many bond agencies hire bounty hunters to do the ‘pickups’ for them. The bounty hunter will be appointed to track down the accused within the specified time frame required by the court in order to prevent the bond agent from having to pay the full bail amount.
The bounty hunter will often use whatever means necessary (within legal limits) to either bring the fleeing defendant back for his court proceedings or to pay off the money that the bail bond company had taken responsibility for. Returning a defendant to the custody of the jail not only protects the bondsman, but also the indemnitor who arranged for a bail bond in the first place.