Sunday, December 04, 2011 9:18 AM
If you are lucky you will go through your entire life without ever needing a bail bond agent. You may not need to know anything more about bail bond process other than what you have seen on television and on the hundreds of billboards that dot the countryside. According to the movies and mainstream media most people are led to believe that only hardened criminals ever need to post bail to get out of jail. The reality is that it is a potential reality for everyone.
Not all Bail Agencies are the same. You will find that no matter where you go, some agents will post a bail for you with bad intentions. It is imperative that you select a reputable, professional agent to protect your rights and best interest.
If you have never had the necessity to seek a bail bond agent for yourself or someone near to you, you may not completely understand the process and the role that the bail bond agent plays. It is important that you review and understand all provisions of the surety bond agreement so you know the potential consequences of your actions should you not follow the agreement. Therefore, before you just pick up the yellow pages and start looking for a bail bond agent, you need to have an idea how the system works and what you should be looking for in a bail bond agency.
Once you or, someone you are close to has been arrested, accused of a crime and put in jail, the arrestee will appear before the judge to be arraigned and/or charged. At this point a bail amount will be established. The amount of the bail is based on a county bail schedule, the nature of the crime, and past criminal history of the arrestee. Often, most first time offenders will have a lower bail amount.
Choosing a professional bail agency is an important part of the process. Ultimately your freedom or that of the person you are trying to free is going to be in the hands of the agent you hire. An experienced bail agency can make all the difference in quick inmate releases. The more experienced your agent is, the better your chances getting out quickly and less hassles durint their stay in custody. Once the jail facility is aware that a familiar bail agent is on their way, often times, the arrestee will not have to endure any further ugliness of the jail process. Typically, the arrestee will be notified that a bail agent is in route and be removed from housing assignments and remain in a less difficult area of the jail facility.
The cost of a bail agent is the same for everyone. All licensed bail agencies charge a predetermined amount which is established by the State’s regulatory body, typically the Department of Insurance or similar entity. This rate is established and filed with the state. This rate is usually 10%-15% of the bond amount and is considered a non-refundable premium that you pay the bail bondsman to get out immediately. If you are represented by private legal counsel, a lower rate can apply. When you hire a bail bond agent through from AMEN BAIL BONDS, you will be putting your freedom or, that of the person you are posting bail for, in the hands of a highly professional, courteous, and experienced agency that will do his best to ensure that you are treated with integrity and respect and remain free until you appear in court. AMEN BAIL BONDS is fully licensed and bonded. We will ANSWER YOUR PRAYER.
When an individual is arrested for a crime, according to US Constitutional law, the person has the right to bail; notwithstanding a capital offense or terrorism. This is a payment that the arrested person has to pay in order to be released from jail until trial. Nobody would want to spend time in the jail and everybody would want to get out of it as quickly as possible. Most people are unaware of how such a process works. You need expert guidance to understand the requirements to post a compliant and successful bail bond.
The bail bond is a guarantee that you will appear in court on the day assigned. In this situation, the release bond is useful as they allow paying some percentage of their release amount. The release amount or cash depends on the severity of the crime. The person has to pay only 10% of the amount and the rest is paid by the agent or agency involved. The court normally returns the bail amount once the accused is in the court on the given date. In case, the accused person fails to be present in the court on the date fixed then the court keeps the amount and issues a warrant for an arrest.
You might have been involved in a case with no fault of yours and end up in custody. It becomes essential to prepare your defense to prove yourself. This could only happen while you are out of custody. So bail bonds give the ability and benefits to come out from the jail. This way you will have all the information to protect your rights and freedom on the court date. With the help of bail bondsman you can defend your side to save your freedom.
It is essential to hire the services of experts to know your DUI bail rights and your traffic bond rights. DUI cases are complex and you need the right agent to give guidance. In such a case, you can easily be stripped of your personal rights and freedom. The agent will put together the best possible legal defense. The experienced and trained agents will remove all the guess work from your mind.
Regardless of whether it’s your fault or not, it is advised not to spend even a few hours in jail. There are agencies that offer professional service to help the defendant from the challenging situation. With proper research, you will be able to find licensed and well-trained agents specialized in large bonds. You can easily get the best service at an amazing affordable price. Avoid deciding upon the bail agency solely on the price. The entire legal process is quite frustrating for the accused and their family. Interest free bond provides great relief to the family of the defendant. For any queries, you can contact the 24-hour customer online support staff. You can discuss with them before making the selection of an agent. In the end, it is the skill and experience of the bail bonding agent that will ultimately release you from the jail. This is an important factor to keep in mind before you hire a representative.
Question: Are the bail amounts different throughout California or are they all the same for the same crime?
Answer: All bail amounts come with an assumptive bail rate, which is kind of like a recommended starting rate for the bail. However, each judge and each jurisdiction in California treats bail differently. As such, no two localities will be the same when it comes to granting bail, just as no two judges will be the same.
In terms of the assumptive bail rate schedule, these are the rates that it is recommended that a judge start the bail at. For example, if a person is arrested and booked for perjury, the assumptive bail rate is $25,000. Perjury is a penal code violation 118 and is a felony offense. Different judge, however, regard perjury differently. As such, which one judge may grant bail at $25,000, another judge might find reason to grant the bail at $30,000.
When determining the amount of bail, the judge will take the circumstances of the case into consideration. For example, if a defendant is arrested for perjury, the judge might look at whether or not the individual was aggressive in court or said slanderous things. If the individual committed or possibly committed other penal code violations or displayed a hostile attitude, then it is likely that the judge will set the bail at a higher rate than if the defendant was peaceful and simple in his perjury.
The judge will a lot look at the history of the defendant. If the defendant has a particularly moving story for why he or she committed a crime, then chances are good that the judge will allow bail to be set at a lower rate, or may even allow the defendant to be released on his own recognizance. For example, if a young child was arrested for stealing food for his starving family, then chances are good that the judge would not require the boy or the family to pay bail, even though burglary is a violation of penal code 459, which is a felony offense and comes with a $30,000 bond.
As you can see, the bail amounts differ throughout California based on the schedules and attitudes of each locality. The bail amounts also vary greatly according to the style of each judge as well as the particulars of a case.
In order to increase your chances of getting a lower bail rate, it is important to consult with your attorney (the court will assign one to you) and to behave with all arresting officers and court representatives.
Question: Are There Actual Studies About What Happens when a Person is Released on his Own Recognizance Versus When a Person is Released on Bail? If so, what are the findings?
Answer: Yes there are. Though many individuals have criticized the existence of private bondsmen, several individuals have provided credible contentions manifesting the advantages of surety bonds over the release on own recognizance system. This debate has waged for a number of years, and often the criticism of either side of the debate relies on theory. However, two articles, namely those of Dr. Michael Block and Eric Helland and Alexander Tabarrok, present comprehensive evidence to establish the supremacy of surety bonds over release on own recognizance.
Helland and Tabarrok in their article entitled, “Public versus Private Law Enforcement: Evidence from Bail Jumping,” explore the reasons for the increased efficiency of surety bonds. Helland and Tabarrok write of the extensive powers of a bondsman, stating, “Bond dealers and their agents have powerful rights over any defendant who fails to appear, rights that exceed those of the public police. Bail enforcement agents, for example, have the right to break into a defendant’s home without a warrant, make arrests using all necessary force including deadly force if needed…”
Besides these potent powers exerted by bond dealers, they also have more time and resources to dedicate to ensuring their defendants serve under the court’s jurisdiction, and as Helland and Tabarrok state, “In contrast [to bond dealers] public police bureaus are often strained for resources and the rearrest of defendants who fail to show up at trial is usually given low precedence.” In comparison, the rearrest and recapture of these defendants is the sole priority of bail agents.
Correspondingly, Block, who is a professor of Economics and Law, provides additional insight supporting surety bonds. Block examines statistics provided from the 12 largest counties in California, citing that increased failures to appear in court of those released on their own recognizance compared to surety bonds. Furthermore, Block writes of the increased cost effectiveness of surety bonds, stating, “We find that if Surety Bond releases comprised 52% rather than 45% of all releases in California’s 12 largest counties in 2000, the budget savings in these urban counties would have been over $1.3 million…In addition, we estimate there would have been a savings in social costs due to a reduction in the number of fugitives of about $13.3 million.”
Identifying both the economic and statistical advantages of surety bonds, Block’s article corroborates with Helland and Tabarrok, maintaining the superiority of private surety bonds over defendants released on their own recognizance.
Question: How do bail bonding agencies make their money?
Answer: Bail bonding agencies are organizations that step in to lend money to defendants when they would like to be released from jail. Most bail bonding agencies will charge about ten percent of the amount of the bail in order to fork over the full amount of the bail. As such, if a defendant has a bail set at $100,000, then bail bonding agency will charge the defendant $10,000 as a down payment for the full amount of the bail. The bonding agency will give the court the full $100,000, but only as a guarantee that the defendant will show up to court to stand trial.
In the event that the defendant fails to show up to court, the bail bonding agency will lose the full bail bond.
However, if the defendant does show up to court, then the bail bonding agency will get a refund of the amount of the bail bond that is equal to one hundred percent, minus some administrative fees. However, the down payment that the defendant has to make is not refundable. Therefore, if the defendant makes a $10,000 for a $100,000 bail, that defendant will lose all $10,000, even if he or she shows up to court.
Defendants do not have to use bail bonding agencies. In fact, it is cheaper if a defendant can fork over the full amount of the bail on his or her own. When a defendant can pay the full bail amount, as long as the defendant goes to trial on his or her court date, he or she will get a full refund of the bail amount. However, most people do not have enough money in order to post bail, so they require the assistance of a bail bondsman.
If a defendant works with a bail bondsman and does not actually go to court to stand trial, the bondsman will likely send a bounty hunter after the defendant. When the bounty hunter finds the defendant, he can arrest the defendant and make him or her return to jail. In such a case, the bonding agency may receive a refund of the amount of the bail bond. The U.S. is the only country that allows bounty hunting.
Bonding agencies may also make money if a defendant puts up real property as collateral for bail. If the defendant fails to show up to court, then the bail bonding agency may take the real property and sell it for more than it bought it for. Such is the case when a bonding agency takes out a lien on a house and sells the house at foreclosure for the cost of the lost bail bond money.
Question: Does a judge always grant bail for a murder defendant? If so, exactly how much can he pay to walk free?
Answer: There are a number of penal code violations for which a judge will not allow bail. Murder is one of them. Prior escape from a prison or a jail might also be one of them. There are a variety of different penal code violations that are associated with murder and manslaughter. Each penal code violation is treated differently and is associated with a different level of bail.
With special circumstances, a straight-up murder will have no bail. It is a felony penal code violation of penal code 187. However, if a judge does grant bail for any reason, the assumptive bail rate will begin at $1 million. However, in many cases, the bail rate will be higher and will include bail for charges such as kidnapping, possession of a weapon, and more.
As far as other criminal offenses that involve taking a person’s life, here is a brief overview of each”
- Gross Vehicular Homicide – which is usually a DUI with gross negligence – is a felony that has an assumptive bail of $50,000. It is penal code violation 191.5
- Voluntary manslaughter is a felony and a violation of penal code 192a. The assumptive bail is $60,000.
- Involuntary manslaughter is a violation of penal code 192b and has an assumptive bail of $25,000.
- Manslaughter caused by driving a vehicle with gross negligence (but not a DUI) is a violation of penal code 192c1 and has an assumptive bail of $50,000.
- Vehicular homicide – which is a DUI without gross negligence – has an assumptive bail of $50,000 and is a violation of penal code 192c3.
- Manslaughter with a vessel is violation of penal code 1922.5 and can be either a felony or a misdemeanor. Assumptive bail is $50,000.
You can see that in many cases when a life is taken either voluntarily or involuntarily, the judge will grant a bail. However, when it comes to murder, the judge will either deny bail or set it at a very high level.
When bail is set at $1 million, a defendant will have to spend at least $100,000 to get out of jail as a down payment to a licensed bail agent.
By Tonya Rynerson
Families experience a lot of stress when a loved one is in jail. It’s a trying emotional time; they’re embarrassed, worried about finances, and anxious to get their loved one out of jail as quickly as possible. That combination leaves people vulnerable to a number of bail bond scams and outright fraud.
Don’t be caught by one of these schemes. Some can be costly; most are illegal. The last thing you want is to have your bail bondsman sharing your cell instead of bailing you out!
Be wary if any bail agent approaches you with one of these offers:
1. “Psst…. Have I got a deal for you!”
Bail agents who charge too little
“Cheap bail bonds” may seem like a good deal, but they’re not. Some bail agents promise “cheap bail” or “5% bail” or another amount that’s much lower than the 10% bail bond premium required by law in most states. A company that offers a cut rate is likely either advertising deceptively or blatantly violating the law.
For instance, if the court sets a bail amount of $25,000, the bail premium – the fee that you pay to a bail bondsman – is usually 10% of the total, or $2500. You pay that fee to the bail agent, who then promises the court that the defendant will show up for court appearances and thus arranges release from jail. The bail agent keeps the bail premium as a fee for assuming the liability of the full amount of the bond.
You may see a bail bond company advertise “5% bail bonds” – which would mean a bail bond fee of $1250 instead of $2500 on a $25,000 bond. That sounds like a great deal over the phone, and we all jump at the chance to save money.
Unfortunately, once at the bail agent’s office, many are surprised to find out that the bail company will take 5% in cash or credit cards as a down payment and finance the balance, likely with interest.
It’s a classic “bait and switch.” But with a loved one sitting in jail and no guarantee that any other bail agent would act any differently, most people just go ahead and sign the paperwork. This practice isn’t illegal, but it is misleading.
Many reputable bail bond companies offer financing, often without interest charges, and will arrange this with you in advance, rather than trick you into coming to their office with false assumptions. This is perfectly honest and acceptable.
A practice that is illegal however, is for any bail agent to charge less than the rate established by law. Bail agents can lose their license and have their businesses shut down.
The state of Connecticut is currently dealing with a bail bond scandal whereby bail bondsmen routinely charge only 2-3% of the bail amount. According to reports, Connecticut judges know this happens and routinely set very high bail amounts to make up for the “discounts” being given by bail agents. This raises the cost for all defendants and undermines faith in the system.
2. “Don’t like being in jail? Let me help!”
Bail agents who solicit business inside jail lobbies – or even jail cells.
As with bail bond pricing, state laws regulate when and how bail agents can solicit business. Some agents walk a fine line between flouting and following the rules.
Bail agents are prohibited from hanging out in the jail and offering bail services. Some agents ignore this law and solicit business this way anyway. There can be tension between competing bail bondsmen – as well as between reputable companies who follow the rules and those who don’t.
In the Connecticut bail bond scandal, Mary Casey, president of the Connecticut State Surety Association, reported that “fights have erupted in court houses” between bail agents trying to solicit the same clients.
Even worse, from an ethical and legal standpoint, is the practice of paying kickbacks via reduced bail fees to jail inmates who refer other arrestees to the bail bond company. Word of mouth advertising is one thing, but this practice is illegal.
Any bail agent who does this is in danger of losing his or her license and could even face felony charges and jail time. Ask yourself: “What kind of business is this person running that he has people in jail drumming up business for him?”
3. “So, I heard your brother’s in jail”
Bail agents who solicit business outside the jail.
It’s illegal to cold call potential clients and solicit business, but some bail agents do it anyway.
Unscrupulous agents obtain booking information online and track loved ones via the Internet. When a potential relative of an arrestee is identified, the rogue agent calls to offer services. If a bail agent ever calls you on behalf of someone in jail, find out who called the agent with the request. Be suspicious if the agent refuses to tell you or tells you they obtained the information from the police or online.
Simply put, in the bail industry, a client must contact a bail agent. It is illegal for a bondsman to call and offer unrequested services. Calling a family member is perfectly legal if the defendant contacts the bail bondsman first and asks the bondsman to do so. But if a bail agent calls you – and the person in jail didn’t call them first – then the agent is acting illegally. Don’t deal with that person – he or she may not even be an actual bail bondsman.
That was the case in a related bail bond scam reported in Norfolk, VA. Swindlers called and/or visited elderly people and told them that a loved one was in jail and needed bail money. The fake bail agents took the money, promised to get the person out of jail, and disappeared.
And in Houston, TX, another bail bond con artist stood outside a bail bond company and intercepted clients. He told them the office was closed, but he could still write the bond if they paid the bail premium to him in cash. Of course, he took the money and disappeared.
Unfortunately, these scams play into the misconception that people have about the bail bond industry as a shady, underhanded kind of business. True, some bail agents are unethical, but there are thousands of honest bail bond agents. Why deal with someone who cuts corners?
While it may seem as though a bail bondsman is offering you a great deal, be careful. Everybody loves a bargain, but ask yourself why this person is offering an arrangement that’s so different from other bail agents.
Responsible, licensed bail agents work within the system and play by the rules. You can count on them to treat you fairly. But if a bail agent doesn’t respect the system and follow the law, you probably can’t trust them to treat clients with any more consideration
10 Articles by Greg Ramos to be included on the website with links
Bail bonding is likely the most misunderstood profession in our legal system. Lawyers, clerks, even magistrates within the criminal justice system who are exposed to bail bonds on a daily basis can often on give the most basic explanation of the process. Compound this with the fact that most citizens who find themselves in the position of needing a bail bondsman (or at least thinking they do) will often be in a confused state due to the stress of having a loved on incarcerated. Needless to say bail bondsman tend to enjoy more than a competitive edge when it comes to negotiating the terms of their service, if any negotiating is done at all.
So how does an individual without any knowledge about what is really involved with this mysterious profession make sure they are not paying more than what is reasonable?
Let me start by clearly stating that the intent of this article is to explain only enough about bail bonding itself to give the reader enough knowledge to get the best price. I do not intend to outline the entire bail bonding process because, in reality, it is not necessary to understand the details to get the best price. In addition we are talking about LARGE bail bonds. No bail bondsman is going to be interested in getting into a heated negotiation over a $1,000 bail bond. You either pay the fee or your bailee will likely just stay incarcerated.
There is one mandatory subject that must be covered so that you limit your negotiations to bail bonding companies that are in a position to actually help you and that is the difference in Surety and Property bail bondsman. That will be covered shortly, first lets look at the typical bail bond.
The generally accepted price for a bail bond is 10% of the bond amount, so for example a bondsman will charge you $100 to post a $1,000 bail bond. It’s common practice in this industry to tell clients that this price is completely non negotiable because the percentage rate is set by law and cannot be altered. This is only partially true. This is where the importance and understanding the two types of bail bonding companies comes into play and it has everything to do with collateral.
Surety bail bondsman- Surety bail bondsman make up the bulk of the bail bondman in the world. These are individuals who’s companies have no real collateral of their own to back up the bail bond they are writing. Instead of using real property the bail bondsman partners with an insurance company who actually provides the collateral for the bail bond. Because an insurance company is involved Surety bail bondsman are really a type of insurance agent and as such must have a property and casualty insurance license. Because these types of bail bonds are really a type of insurance the “premium” or rate (the 10%) IS set in stone and cannot be altered by the bondsman. This is the rate that the insurance company filed with the Comissioner of Insurance and therefore must be adhered to.
This is why when shopping around for a better price the first question that should be asked is “are you a Surety or Property bail bondsman?”.
Property bail bondsman- In contrast a property bail bonding company has pledged real estate as the collateral for the bonds they write and therefore are not obligated to follow any pricing at all. The only limiting factor on price with a property bail bondsman is profit vs risk. And risk is everything.
So now knowing you must first find a property bail bondsman, how do you get the best price?
As stated earlier as property bail bondsman we look at discounting as profit vs risk. The way to get me to discount my rate is to take away risk.
How do you do that? The number one most important thing to a property bail bondsman when calculating risk is the cosigner. A bail bond is a three party contract with the bail bondsman, the defendant, and the cosigner on the bond (an individual who is agreeing to be held civilly liable for the full amount of the bail should the defendant fail to appear at all their court dates) all being parties to the contract. Simply put, find the right cosigner and you can start looking prices in 8%-4% range. The bottom line is the bigger the bail bond, the better the cosigner, the lower the price.
So what is a good cosigner? Well, essentially a bail bond is a loan for the face amount of the bond. So you have to understand that these are risky loans and the bail bondsman wants a cosigner who they know they can 1-Easily locate (Lifelong local resident, has financial or family obligations that would make it difficult to relocate like school age kids and a mortgage) 2-Could feasibly pay back the full face amount in a reasonable amount of time should there be a forfeiture (has a high income and or extremely stable job, a government employee with a long work record)
What the bail bondsman wants is that warm fuzzy feeling that even if the defendant runs out of the country they can recover their loss in a short amount of time. Obviously the warmer and fuzzier you feel the more likely you are going to be willing to take less profit even though the bondsman’s liability will remain the same. We do not have the benefit of payment plans and time. When the Stafford County Virginia court system says pay, we have to pay 100% immediately or be shut down by the Department of Criminal Justice Services.
In closing, this information should be helpful to those who may come upon it because they have been confronted with an extremely large bond and are taking the time to research before they buy. Find a reasonable property bail bondsman and you could save yourself a good amount of money.
With that said keep in mind that bail bondsman are just human beings, some are friendly good natured people, some are extremely ill tempered downright dirtbags. Find a bondsman who you feel you can trust and work with them. Price is not everything, remember a bail bondsman has full arrest rights on the defendant without naming any reason whatsoever to the court system. I know many bail bondsman who have written very large bonds at discounted rates and then simply re-arrested the defendant a few days later to discharge their liability on the bond. Don’t trust the discount from an unreputable bail agent.