HOW DOES BAIL WORK? » The Bail Process
The Bail Process

When someone is arrested, he or she is first taken to a police station to be booked. When a suspect is booked, or processed, police officer records information about the suspect (name, address, birthday, appearance) and the alleged crime. The police officer conducts a criminal background check, takes the suspect’s fingerprints and mugs hot and seizes and inventories any personal property, which will be returned when the suspect is released. The suspect is also checked to see if he or she is intoxicated and usually is allowed to make a phone call. Finally, an officer puts the suspect in a jail cell, usually with other recently booked suspects.

For less serious crimes, a suspect may be allowed to post bail immediately after being booked. Otherwise, the suspect will have to wait (usually less than 48 hours) for a bail hearing where a judge will determine if the accused is eligible for bail and at what cost.

The amount of bail depends on the severity of the crime but is also at the judge’s discretion. Some jurisdictions have bail schedules which
recommend a standard bail amount. For example, in Los Angeles, the bail schedule recommends $25,000 for perjury or sexual assault, $100,000 for manslaughter and $1,000,000 for kidnapping with intent to rape. In determining bail, a judge may take into account this amount but will also consider the defendant’s criminal record (if any), his or her history of showing up for past court appearances, ties to the community, whether the suspect is a danger to others and any other concerns that may be raised by the defendant’s attorney. In some cases, bail may be waived altogether, which we’ll discuss later in the article.
Bail Licenses [Top]

In many states, the bail bondsman is required to obtain a license from the state insurance commission. The minimum age requirement to obtain a bail bondsman license is 18 Years old, in many instances, twelve hours of pre-licensing class time are required. This class time covers the legal aspects of providing bail bonds, including the rights of the accused and ethical a business practices.

A surety company bond for usually one thousand dollars is also required to be filed along with the state department of insurance application. Copies of all of the agreements used in business should also be provided for review by the insurance commission. Fingerprints are also required to be on file with the application. Applicant must pass the department of insurance’s written exam. Most licenses are issued to individuals and are valid for one year. License renewal requires an additional fee and six additional classroom hours.
Bail Bondsman Code of Ethics [Top]

The behavior of bail bondsmen is covered by a code of ethics. The code of ethics specifies the bond agents’ duties regarding their clients, community, and competition for clients. Bondsmen owe their clients the best effort to post bail within a specific time frame. A bond agent also has the obligation to turn down clients in certain instances. Specialized bonds should be handle be experienced bond agents. A bond agent should tell the client if they’re unable to handle the bonding situation. Bond agents have the responsibility to exercise care and protect the personal property put up for collateral aspects of using collateral should also be familiar to the bond agent.

Bondsmen are liable for negligent acts regarding the collateral or business dealings. The bond agent should not discriminate based on race, religion, or national origin. The bond agent should also operate fairly to avoid conflicts with other licensed bond agents. The bondsman should make every effort to explain the disclosure agreements and bail documents. Additional information on the code of ethics can be obtained from a bail bondsman in your area.
Confidentiality Relationship [Top]

A bail bond service should provide a confidential source of funds for your bail. The services of a bail bond agent should help you avoid going to friends, family, banks, and other financial sources to obtain the bail amount. Using a bail bondsman allows you to complete the paperwork in one sitting. This prevents headaches and allows you to focus on your defense. You can easily determine and sign over collateral items at one time. It prevents the need to transfer funds at a numerous financial institutions. The bonding services allow you to maintain some control over your defense. You can easily determine and sign over collateral items at one time. It prevents the need to transfer funds at numerous financial institutions. The bonding services allow you to maintain some control over your circumstances and the information regarding the charges pending against you.

Bond agents work in your corner to gain you a release as soon as possible. Although confidentiality is not guaranteed by the code of ethics, at Vu Bail Bonds we use discretion. The bondsman should provide complete disclosure of the bond process and release advice while and attorney is present if possible. For additional information on bail bond agent confidentiality, please contact us. Bail bond services offer many convenience features. Vu Bail Bonds is an expert on procedures to gain a release from jail. We use our experience to help you gain a faster release.
Payment Arrangements [Top]

When you need to post bail, payment arrangements can make a big difference. At Vu Bail Bonds, we accept credit cards to help you cover the premium payments needed to secure the bond. Financing premium payment may also be available. Payment arrangements are at the sole discretion of Vu Bail Bonds. Payment agreements are specific to each bail bond request. Please contact us for specific information on payment arrangements available in your area.
Premium Payments

Premium payments represent the bail bondsman’s fee for securing your release from confinement. This fee is normally restricted by law to a certain percentage of the bail amount. For example, if bail is ten thousand dollars then the premium fee of 10 to 15 percent would be 1,000 or 1,500 dollars. Depending on the charges and the duration of the trial, another premium payment may be required. Generally, the premium paid is only valid for one year. The remaining amount of the bail bond is covered by collateral.

The premium amount is not refundable, regardless of the disposition of the charges against the accused. The collateral will be released, assuming the court has come to a decision and bail terms were satisfied. If you flee the court, or “jump bail”, the entire premium payment and collateral will be seized by the bonding agency. Paying premium payment to Vu Bail Bonds can save you money and allow you to manage your money instead of paying a cash bond to the court for the entire bail amount. Please contact us for additional information on premium payments.
Bail Conditions [Top]

Bail conditions can vary depending on the type of bail, the restriction of the court, and the bail bond agreement. One necessary condition of bail is the obligation to appear at any and all court appointments. Bail for release, appeal procedures, and parole applications can limit your travel to within certain areas that the courts have granted permission for travel.  Typically, you will need to provide detailed information about your travel plans to the court officer for the permission to be granted.

As a bail bondsman, Vu Bail Bonds has the right to impose restrictions on the terms of bail if you have a drug problem and refuse treatment. A bondsman can make treatment completion a requirement of the bond. An Agreement with this condition can send you back to jail if you fail to complete the treatment. Mandating treatment in this manner can ensure that you get needed help. Additional conditions may include continued employment or meeting scheduled appoints with court officers. An attorney or Vu Bail Bonds can provide additional information on bail conditions.
Bond Indemnitor [Top]

Bond indemnitors, or co-signers, have the responsibility of paying the bail bond’s premium payment and adhering to the contract agreement. Bond premium fees are generally valid for only one year. If the term of bail runs longer than a year, additional premium payments are required. Bond indemnitors can be family, friends, or even the accused. A co-signer, or guarantor, has the most to lose should the accused not show for trial appearances, In addition to forfeiting the premium payment, co-signers can lose items used as collateral to cover the remaining bail bond balance.

Bond indemnitors can impose conditions of release on the bail bond agreement, for instance, completing a drug treatment program or mental evaluation can be required to maintain the bail bond release. If a person on bail attempts to flee, the co-signer can have the bail bond privilege revoked. Vu Bail Bonds can provide additional information on co-signing or guaranteeing a release bond.
Using Collateral [Top]

In order to obtain a surety bond, Vu Bail Bonds will require collateral in addition to the premium payment percentage before the bond can be issued and release gained. Collateral for the outstanding bail bond amount can include almost anything of resale value. Equity in a home can be considered collateral assuming there is not a second mortgage for the amount. Cars may not be considered collateral unless you own them free and clear of nay financing institution.

Once a large item is used as collateral, you may keep possession and continue to use it while Vu Bail Bonds holds the item’s title. This includes houses, boats, motor homes, and cars. Smaller items of value, like jewelry, computers, cameras and firearms, will need to be surrendered to Vu Bail Bonds. We will keep the items in a secure location for the duration of the bail. Only the resale value of the items will be used towards the necessary collateral amount, not the amount paid. Your collateral is returned after charges are dropped, sentence is determined, or innocence is proven. Please contact us for additional information on collateral.
Removing Bond Liabilities [Top]

The liability of bail is removed once the terms of the bail have been satisfied. This includes attendance at all court proceedings. Once the defendant has been vindicated or charges have been dismissed, the bond is considered void. The defendant is still liable for fines or penalties regarding the case. Vu Bail Bonds will return any items used as collateral to hold the bond. The bond agent will verify the exoneration with the courts prior to releasing any liens. However, if an outstanding premium payment is due to Vu Bail Bonds, the liability is kept until the payment is paid in full.

The indemnitor, or co-signer, of the bond is liable to the full bond amount if the bond is forfeited due primarily to the defendant “skipping” the court proceeding. Bail bondsman expenses are also included until the court exonerates the bond. If the defendant is sentenced for a crime and remanded to the court, the bail collateral is released to you. The premium payment to the bail bondsman is the exception. It’s kept for guaranteeing release and court appearances. For additional information on the removal of bond liabilities, please contact Vu Bail Bonds.
Withdrawal of Bail [Top]

The primary condition of bail requires the defendant to appear in court. However, additional conditions may be part of the terms of release. These conditions can include completion of a substance abuse treatment program or checking in regularly with some agent of the court. If the defendant informs someone of an intent to flee the court, the bail can be withdrawn. A bail agent can even terminate your bail with little to no cause and request that you be remanded to confinement. If the defendant leaves a job or can’t be found, a bond agent may withdraw the bond and return the defendant to jail. If the defendant poses a threat to the community or commits a crime while on bail, the court may deny bail and in effect, withdraw the existing bail privilege.
Right to Arrest [Top]

Bail bondsmen, in many instances, have a greater license to arrest than local law enforcement. The Supreme Court decision of “Taylor versus Taintor” holds that once bail is proved, “the principal is regard as delivered to the custody of his sureties. Their dominion is a continuation of the original imprisonment.” The arrest is not considered a new process but an extension of the original arrest for the bailed charge. The bondsman may at any time cancel the bail privilege and return the defendant to confinement. Bondsmen or their agents are not required to obtain additional warrants or extradition papers. A bail bondsman or their agent can break into and enter the residence of a defendant for the purpose of arrest.
Bounty Hunters [Top]

Bounty Hunters, also known as bail enforcers are often hired by bail bondsmen to locate, arrest, and return the accused person to court. Bail enforcers share the rights to arrest with the hiring bail bond agent. These rights may vary from state to state. Please contact Vu Bail Bonds for additional information on bounty hunters in your state.
Skipping Bail [Top]

Skipping bail is the term used to describe a charged individual who fails to make the mandated court appearance. When an accused person skips bail, the court issues a bench warrant for their arrest and court appearance. Bail is normally forfeited at a specified time period thereafter. Once the individual has skipped, a bail bondsman may try to locate them through whatever means possible. This can include hiring the services of a bounty hunter. “Tracking a skip,” as it’s sometimes referred to, can involve role playing on the part of the bounty hunter.

This deception is legal and can often lead to obtaining information on the location of the accused. If the accused is returned to court prior to the forfeiture date and the bail amount has not been paid, then the collateral may be returned. State law varies on the rights and obligations of bounty hunters in tracking an accused person.
Federal Bonds [Top]

Bail bonds for crimes in U.S. District courts are considered federal bonds. These bonds serve the same purpose as other types of bonds. They release you from jail on the guarantee you’ll appear at all court proceedings. Federal offenses include any interstate crime. There is no schedule of bail amounts for individual offenses. The judge during an arraignment hearing determines the bail amounts. It’s not uncommon to have the bail amounts in federal cases be set at high levels, making obtaining release more difficult.

A bail bondsman is able to write federal bonds for a premium charge. The normal premium charge is ten percent of the bail amount. However, the premium amount may be as high as 15 percent of the set bail. Federal bonds are subject to forfeiture should you miss your court appearances. The date of forfeiture is determined by the court judge. Forfeited bonds are paid to the U.S government.
Bail Agreements [Top]

Bail agreements constitute a contract between the indemnitor of the bail and the bondsman. Generally, the agreement includes the following bail information: the date a bail was assigned, the judge assigning the bail, the charge and court with which it’s filed, and the names and contact information for the bond co-signer(s). The bail amount is also described in the contract. Upon signing the bond agreement, the co-signers assume the responsibility for the charged individual to appear in court and answer any charge listed.

The agreement also states that if the arrested party fails to make the court proceedings, the bond agency will pay the bail amount listed if ordered to do so by the court. In the event of forfeiture, the agreement allows the collateral securing the bail bond to be seized by the bond agency. Frequently the agreement will also site the legal sections applicable to the agreement. Signatures by the bond agency and guarantor are required for the contract to be binding.
Surety Bonds [Top]

Use of surety bond involves a series of contracts with a bondsman, or bond agent, for the bail amount. The bondsman interviews the arrested individual and the guarantor prior to assuring that the accused will appear in court. This information provides the bail agent with a reasonable determination of whether the accused will make the designated court appearances. Contracts can also contain various conditions of guaranteeing the release such as completing drug treatment. Bonds are usually written for a premium percentage of the bail’s full amount. Collateral from the guarantor is then used to secure the remaining bail amount.
The bond agent is liable to the court for the full bail amount. In the event  the accused fails to appear, this guarantee is made by using the assets and property of the bail agent’s insurance, or surety company. The surety company is usually licensed for operation by the insurance commission of the state.
Appeal Bond [Top]

Motions for release on bail are filed once the municipal court has handed down a quilt decision. When the case is appealed, the attorney also draws up the bail application for release pending the appellate court ruling. Appeal bonds require that a premium percentage be paid to the bond agent. However, most bail bond agents require that the appeal bond be backed by cash collateral for the full bail amount.

This means that instead of using property as collateral, you would need to provide a cashier’s check, certificate of deposit, letter of credit, or cash for the full bail amount. Failure to appear in court would mean forfeiture of the bail. The “skip” would then be a fugitive from justice and subject to arrest and extradition to carry out the sentence.
Immigration Bonds [Top]

Immigration bonds like other court bonds guarantee the appearance of an individual charged with a legal violation in court. Bonds for immigration charges are posted with the immigration and naturalization service instead of a standard jail facility. The basic eligibility requirements are the same as for other types of bonds, including the annual premium payment paid to the bail bondsman. Immigration bonds differ from normal court bonds due to the difficulty they present for the bond agent.

Normal licenses for bail bonds are not sufficient for immigration bonds. A causality insurance license is required. Bonds posted for immigration charges are also subject to immediate forfeiture should the arrested individual not appear in court. Some bond agents have found it difficult to work on immigration bonds due to language barriers and restrictions based on working within the operational hours of the immigration and naturalization service. Processes for collecting on collateral also vary in immigration cases.
Property Bond [Top]

Depending on the jurisdiction of the case, an individual may be able to use property to gain release. The individual posts a property bond with the court. The value of the property may need to be twice as high as the bail amount. This means that property equity of twice the bail amount needs to be held free and clear by the owners. In some instances, a court appointed appraiser will access the property value. Other jurisdictions may accept the certified tax assessor’s statement of property value.

All owners of the property listed on the warranty deed or tax statement must sign an agreement to use their property as bail security. Several states prohibit the use of the arrested individual’s property in release bonds. The court secures a lien against the property for the bail amount. In the event the person fails to appear for court proceedings, foreclosure action may be taken against the property. This allows the court to collect on the outstanding bail amount.
Cash Bonds [Top]

Cash bonds are posted by friends, family, or yourself when you’re arrested for a crime. These bonds require the full bail amount and are not financed through a bail bondsman. You thereby guarantee your own presence in court. The court holds and restricts the total bail amount until the case is concluded. Posting a cash bond can consequently tie up necessary living funds and savings. Once the case is finalized, the bail is returned to you.

Failure to appear for trial forfeits the bail to the court. The court then issues a bench warrant for your arrest. In cases involving drug trafficking, all bail money must have proven origination from non-drug sources before it can be used as bail.
Own Recognizance [Top]

Release on your “own recognizance” gets you out of jail without bail money. You’re on your honor to return for the court proceedings. If you fail to return for trial, a bench warrant is issued; but you suffer no financial hardship. In order to determine your eligibility for an “own recognizance” release, a court administrator or judge will interview you while you’re in custody. Many times this interview is even conducted over the phone. The interview provides information an official needs to make a recommendation to the court.

While this recommendation is important, high volumes of requests permit little time to perform background searches and verify the information provided by you. An “own recognizance” release protects your right to due process. If you’re unable to make bail, this release can allow you to return to employment and regular living while awaiting trial.
Pretrial Release [Top]

A pretrial release which allows a release from confinement prior to a trial can take several forms. Depending on the charge, release may be withheld. The right to bail or release is part of the due process legislation. It prevents potentially innocent people from losing their jobs, falling behind on bill payments, and suffering other difficulties as a result of imprisonment. Pretrial releases consist of bail bonds, citation releases, and release on one’s own recognizance.

Citation Release [Top]

Citation release is a form of pretrial release. A “cite out” or citation release is issued by the arresting officer. This citation informs us of the date that you must appear in court. The cite out is usually provided after the arrest, resulting in little or no time in confinement. The court appearance depends solely on your honesty. Failure to attend the court proceeding will result in a bench warrant issued for your arrest.

By receiving a “cite out”, no financial obligation or bail is required, and no financial loss is incurred if you fail to attend the trial proceedings. The ability to receive a citation release can allow offenders of smaller crimes to return to relatively normal living until the trial. This release also protects your rights and presumes you “innocent until proven guilty.”