Bail is an amount of money paid for the temporary release of a criminal suspect awaiting a trial and acts as a guarantee that the accused will appear in court. In cases when one cannot pay for the bail themselves, they can use the services of bond agencies if it is something that is allowed by the court. These agencies post bail for one’s release from custody in the form of a surety bond – an agreement between an obligee (the court), principal (the accused), and surety (the bond agency) in which the surety provides a financial guarantee to the obligee that the principal will fulfill their obligations.
The agency’s representatives are known as bail bond agents, so-called bail bondsmen and their roles include completing paperwork, receiving payments, and even tracking down the accused if they fail to show up for their trial.
The stereotypical bail bond agents that are shown on television or in movies are over-dramatized and far from the truth and although these agents can make arrests if necessary, this comes long after the initial bail process. So, let’s take a look at what their roles and responsibilities truly are.
1. Bond Assessment
There are many things to assess in order to determine whether a defendant has the qualifications for a bond. These include the investigation of one’s background to decide if their a flight risk or not, ensuring the accused is able to pay the agency’s fee and cover the cost of fines if they do not appear for trial. Usually, surety bonds are made only if agents are confident that the suspect will appear in court since one of their primary goals is to prevent any money loss. According to experts from AllProBailBond, bail bondsmen acquire potential clients similar to the way a salesperson does.
After the bond is approved, the next step would be accepting the payment and completing the necessary paperwork. The client signs a legal agreement called a power of attorney which gives the agency the right to represent a client on the matter of bail. All the paperwork is submitted to the court where the bond formally takes effect, enabling the defendant’s release.
This is the role most people are familiar with, but it is a little different from what we see in entertainment. Since the bond is supposed to ensure the appearance of the suspect in court if one fails to do so, it technically means they owe money to an agency. In order to protect their financial interests, agents need to track down, arrest, and present the suspect before the court. Although they are allowed to apprehend fugitives, they are not a part of law enforcement.
4. Agency Communication
It is important for agents to maintain regular communication with the agency they work for. Not only do they need to submit regular paperwork and sales receipts to the office in order to collect payments and stay employed, but agencies often immediately call bail bond agents when new clients request their services. Having good communication means that everything works effectively and time-efficiently.
To sum everything up, the role of a bail bondsman is to offer their services of posting bail for people who cannot afford it, at the same time working with their client’s lawyer to prepare their defense, providing a productive and affordable solution for all parties involved.