A bail bond involves a number of different persons or groups that each have their own particular role to play in the process. Specifically, a bail bond is a contract among four distinct parties:
- A state-licensed bail bonds agency
- A court or other entity that holds the arrest warrant
- The person who co-signs for the bail bond
- The Defendant himself
What Each Party Does
The bail bonds agent will post the bond for you with the court to get you or your loved one released. In doing so, they are risking the full bail amount should the defendant not appear in court. The co-signer of the bond, in turn, is liable to pay back the bail bonds agency should the bond become forfeit to the court after the defendant flees justice. Thus, both the agent and the co-signer have a vested interest in ensuring the bailed-out individual shows up for all his/her court appearances.
The presiding judge will set the bail amount, often in conformity with a predetermined bail schedule, but he/she has the authority to increase or decrease the bail. The severity of the alleged crime, the perceived risk of flight, and the defendant’s past criminal record will play into the judge’s decision.
The arrestee will need to agree to check in regularly with his bail bonds agent as well as secure a co-signer, if he cannot pay the bail upfront himself, in order to be released. Otherwise, he will have to wait in jail until his first court appearance (arraignment).
The co-signer will normally receive a phone call from the inmate soon after the arrest, but he may learn of the arrestee’s condition via online inmate look-up tools as well. If willing to bail his loved one out, he will have to arrange the paperwork with the bail bonds agent, pay a fee, and likely put up some form of collateral.
The Cost of a Bail Bond
While some few may be capable of paying the full bail amount in cash (a “cash bond”), in most cases, a bail bond is the only way for people to get out of jail before they go to court. The purpose of bail is to discourage defendants from fleeing, and therefore, it is purposefully set rather high.
Bail bonds companies make their living through non-refundable fees, called “premiums,” based on a percentage of the total bail. While the exact premium rate varies from place to place and agency to agency, the following is typical in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metro area:
- A 10% premium for felony bonds. The total bail may be very high, say $100,000, and thus, even this relatively low rate could cost you $10,000. Using a bond, however, does save you from risking the $90,000.
- A 20% premium for misdemeanor bonds. While the rate is higher, the total bail amount is usually low. So, a $2,000 bail bond, for example, would cost you only $400 to secure. Additionally, it is sometimes possible for the co-signer to write this fee off on next year’s tax return.
On large bail bonds, the co-signer will probably have to back up the full value of the bond with some form of collateral. It could be, for example, a car, expensive boat, or investment real estate. Primary residences, however, in the state of Texas, cannot legally be accepted as collateral. The collateral on a $100,000 felony bond would need to be equal to the bail minus the premium ($90,000) plus any other applicable fees.
The Risk of Flight
If the judge deems the risk of flight too high, he will refuse bail altogether, and if bail is allowed, the amount will partly depend on how likely he thinks it is that the defendant will appear for court. If you know there is a warrant out for your arrest, a bondsman can assist you in turning yourself in and getting quickly bailed out. Those who willingly turn themselves in sometimes can see the bail amount reduced since their risk of flight is considered less than if they had to be physically apprehended. Remember that, once a warrant is issued, it remains in effect indefinitely until you appear before a judge, so there is no point in hiding unless you plan to hide for the rest of your life.
In most cases, bail is a sufficient incentive to bring defendants to the courtroom, but experienced bondsmen will still exercise the greatest caution. Before they are willing to put up a large deposit of money to bail someone out, they will want to be sure there is little to no risk of flight. The bail bonds agent will, therefore, likely record facts about the bailee such as: full legal name, date of birth, place of residence and employment, make and model of vehicle, typical hang-out locations, distinguishing physical features, etc. He may also insist on getting acquainted a little bit with the arrestee and co-signer before committing to post the bail.
If the bailee does, in fact, fail to come to court, the bail bonds agent and bond co-signer will immediately attempt to locate him. The agent will have the authority to use a bounty hunter, if necessary, to track down the fugitive and bring him to justice. The co-signer will become liable for the cost of re-arresting the fugitive in accordance with the terms of most bail bonds contracts.
Why You Should Not Mistreat the Bondsman
The bail bonds agent does not have to accept the responsibility of posting bail for anyone- it is totally at his/her discretion. Thus, if one acts defiant, rude, or aggressive toward the agent, he may well refuse to post the bond. You can also be sure he will take seriously any off-the-cuff comments about skipping town once you get out of jail.
Also, if your case is lost and an appeal is begun, it is possible to “flip the bond” so that it counts for the new appeals case. The agent’s cooperation will be needed at that point, so it is best to cooperate with him earlier on. There is no sense in sitting in jail during the whole appeals process simply because you earlier decided to mistreat the bonding agent.
Efficient Bail Bonds Services for South Texas
Regardless of the alleged crime, jail is a frightening place to stay even for a couple of days, and it is also unnerving to have an active warrant out for your arrest. The expert bail bonds agents of South Texas Bail Bonds can assist you in either situation. We have the depth of knowledge and experience to get you or your loved one out of jail fast in Dallas and throughout southern Texas. Contact us today at 956-377-5381 for a free consultation and for answers to all of your bail bonds questions.