A bail bondsman, bond broker, bail bondsman or bail bond company is a person, firm or corporation who will act as an independent surety to a court-appointed bail agency and pledge property or cash as security for the defendant’s appearance in court on a particular date. The bail agent will then post the bond, usually a lien on the property of the defendant, on a special note, which must be paid in full at the time of his or her arrest.
Bail bondsmen are commonly referred to as surety bondsmen. Surety bondsmen are often employed by insurance companies to guarantee that claims made by clients are paid by the insurance carrier in the event of the policyholder’s death.
A surety bond can take many forms and can be made up of various types of assets. Usually, a surety bond consists of a lien (a legal claim on the property or cash) on the defendant’s personal property. The asset can be anything from a car, motorcycle, boat, or home. Some bonds are backed by home equity loans, other bonds are backed by business interest and others are supported by real estate.
In general, most surety bondsmen use their own assets as a guarantee of payment. This means that if a defendant does not appear on his or her scheduled court date, the surety will pay the defendant’s bond without ever seeing the defendant himself or herself.
There are some states that do not allow a surety bondsman to personally guarantee a bond. Instead, the state courts have adopted a procedure known as sureties, in which the surety bondsman or his or her agent is given a lien or security of sorts on the defendant’s personal property. These bonds are then transferred to the surety bondsman’s personal bond company upon his or her death. If the defendant defaults in payment of the bail, the surety will return the lien to the state courts.
Another type of bail is called a recognizance bond. This type of bond is issued by a judge on behalf of the defendant and is in effect a promise to appear before the judge on a specified date and at a specified time. The bail amount is generally set by the judge, though it may be higher or lower than the bond set by the surety bondsman.
When the accused is arrested, the judge may assign a bail bondsman to act on his or her behalf. In some jurisdictions, a bail bond company will charge an initial fee to the defendant before they undertake to act on the defendant’s behalf. The company may then attempt to raise the bail amount through negotiations with the police, the court, the prosecution, or the judge. If the bail amount is not raised or if the defendant defaults in the bail amount, the bondsman has the right to sell the defendant’s property and post it as his or her own, usually on the property of the defendant.
Sometimes, the bondsman will be able to raise the bail amount at a later date, in which case he or she may not continue to be a bail bondsman until the amount of the bond is raised. The bail bond company is in essence acting as a middleman between the defendant and the state.
When bail bondsmen fail to raise the required amount of the bond, the defendant may go into default in payments, and the surety bondsman will be paid the full amount due. If the surety bondsman defaults, the defendant is in default and will also be held in jail. The defendant may be released on bail after the court sets a bond at a lower amount than the defendant was able to raise or may be held for a period of time after being found in default and until he or she has raised the bond enough to have the charges against him dismissed.
Some states have also begun enforcing laws that require bail bondsmen to work under strict fiduciary rules. If a bail bondsman fails to raise the bail amount, the bail bond will not be released until the surety bondsman has filed all required paperwork with the courts. In some states, the surety bondsman may face fines or even jail time. For this reason, some bondsmen take the risk of offering their clients a reduced amount and then failing to keep up with the payments. For example, some bondsmen offer bail bonds with lower penalties in exchange for allowing the client to pay the bail with a credit card or cash instead of a bond.
The practice of selling bonds on the Internet has allowed bail bondsmen to expand their business and profit from their work. In many jurisdictions, online bonds are now handled by a specialized firm, such as the International Association of Restitution Bond Companies (IARB). These firms offer both types of bonds but use an Internet service to do so.