What’s the Difference?
When a person is arrested in Florida, they are taken into police custody and booked into jail. Upon arrival, the suspect is fingerprinted and mugshots are taken. Next, a statement is collected from the suspect and (sometime afterwards) a bail amount is issued for their pretrial release if the defendant is eligible.
How Does Bail Money Work?
Any defendant being released before his trial on bail is done so under the condition that he will attend all the court dates as demanded by the judicial system. A defendant has the option of paying the full bail amount directly to the clerk of the courts or finding a bail bondsman to post a bond at a fraction of the full bail amount demanded by the magistrate.
How is Bail Set?
The amount of bail demanded by the court depends upon the type of crime committed. Most Florida counties use a uniform bond schedule that suggests the bail amount to help expedite the inmate release process. Bail amounts usually begin around $1000 but can extend in much larger amounts. Sometimes into six digits.
How Do You Get Bonded?
Large bail amounts are almost impossible to pay for those who have been arrested with a low income. The solution is to contact a bail bond company to purchase a surety bond. The bondsman will sign a surety vouching for the availability of the accused during the days and times that the court hearing(s) is scheduled to determine whether or not the defendant is guilty or innocent.
How Much Does a Bail Bondsman Charge?
A Florida bail bondsman will issue a state bail bond for 10% of the full bail amount or 15% for a federal bail bond. Therefore, if the bail demanded by the court is $2000, the bail bond premium amount will be $200 for a state bond or $300 for a federal bond. Any money paid to a bondsman is non-refundable.
What Happens if You Jump Bail?
Once a bond has been signed by a bondsman, the criminal defendant becomes the responsibility of the bail bond agency up until all court hearings have been completed. If the defendant does not show up for any of his court dates, it becomes a problem for the bondsman, as well as the person who bailed the defendant out of jail. The bail bond agency has a limited amount of time to return the defendant back to jail before being held liable for the full bail amount originally required by the court.
What Do Bounty Hunters Do?
When a pretrial defendant skips bail, it is the responsibility of the bail bondsman to either return the fugitive to jail or pay the full bail amount set by the magistrate. Since bailing someone out of jail requires large amounts of money, it becomes a huge blow to the financial status of the bail bond company. A business with so much to lose is always expected to walk into any situation with a backup plan. In this case, the backup plan is bounty hunters.
The United States of America is one of the few countries that still use bounty hunters. The main job of bounty hunters is quite similar to what has always been showcased on movies and shows reflecting the Wild West. Remember the WANTED posters displaying fugitives at large on walls and doors who were wanted in exchange for a certain amount of money (usually a large sum, depending on how dangerous the criminal was)?
On those old movies and tv shows, just about anyone could have been a bounty hunter. However, in modern day, bounty hunters are actually trained to track down defendants who have skipped bail and return them to either the bail bondman or send them directly to jail.
Once a bounty hunter is employed, they are also paid a certain sum from the money that is acquired from the defendant who has been caught and brought to justice by the court of law for the crime they committed.
In Florida, there are no ‘bounty hunters’. Both phases of the process, issuing a bond and collecting a defendant who has skipped bail, are both handled by a state licensed bail bondsman.