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How the Bail Bond System Works

A bail bond is the surety placed against the return of the defendant to the court. Bail bonds find their origin in English law at a time when the time between an arrest and a trial was long and often resulted in the escape or death of the defendant for which the sheriff was held responsible. The basic idea behind a bail bond was that the collateral posted by friends and family would ensure the defendantís appearance at the trial. This was also beneficial to those who were innocent of the crime they were charged for as they did not have to bear the punishment of unjust imprisonment.

In the United States there are two types of laws that regulate bail bonds: federal laws and state laws, and they are applicable according to the type of crime committed and in the area it is committed. Different states have their own ways of governing bail bonds. Usually bail is granted by a judge; though in some states approved officers of the law and judiciary also can serve the same purpose. Bail is granted according to the seriousness of the crime and the individualís criminal history. In most states bail bondsmen can work only when they are licensed. For this the basic requirement is that one be an American of 18 years or more with a stipulated number of hours of study of bail bonds laws. Also the individual should not have been committed of felony and should have adequate financial resources to assure the court. Conduct of a bail bondsman is covered by a code of ethics that specifies how the individual should handle his or her interaction with defendants.

While one can also post bail on their own it is usually recommended to seek out the assistance of a bail bondsman as one you donít have to tie up your own finances and two, he or she is more familiar with the stateís bail bond laws and thus is more efficient. A premium fee of 10 -15% is charged  by the bail bondsman.

Collateral used to get the bail bond is recovered only after the defendant appears for trial. This may include property, jewelry, boats, etc. If the defendant skips bail or does not turn up for the trial the bail bondsman can arrest him or get a licensed official to do so on his behalf. Such an arrest is considered as part of the original arrest for which bail was granted. While some states allow bounty hunters or bail enforcers who can be hired to track down defendants and bring them in others donít. A bail agent may withdraw bail at any point if he or she feel that the defendant may skip bail. Some of the different types of bail bonds include surety bond wherein the bail bondsman assures the court that the defendant will appear for trial, property bonds, cash bonds, for immigration bonds a causality insurance license is required, and own recognizance bond in which a defendant is released without any bail money and is held honor bound to appear for the trial.

 

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Last modified: 01.10.2014