Its amazing to learn how bail bonds get paid on a defendant and co-signer’s behalf once you understand how all of the interested parties work in unison. In this post, we cut through all of the jargon and break down how a bondsman covers payment for a bail bond to get an inmate released from jail.
How Bail Bond Payments Are Made
The term bail refers to the amount that someone must pay to the court or jail to get a defendant released before their trial date. A bail bond refers to an alternative to the cash bail option in which an agreement is made to release an inmate from incarceration on certain financial terms.
The actual payment of the bail bond is done by the bonding company or bondsman, but only if the defendant flees the state and the full bail amount becomes due.
This is why, in high-risk cases, some form of collateral or deposit is required before the actual bond can be written. This is also why the requirements of the co-signer are higher with higher risk bail bonds.
The amount that the co-signer pays is profited by the bonding company. Some people believe that by paying a bail bond company to get someone out of jail, they are paying the jail itself.
This is not the case.
Here’s how bail bonds are paid:
- The co-signer makes an agreement with a bail bonds agency to get a defendant released and only pays a percentage of the total bail amount.
- The bondsman takes that payment as the bonding company’s fee.
- The licensed bonding company makes a separate agreement with an insurance company to cover the cost of the bail.
- If the defendant fails to appear for court, then the bondsman is liable for the the full amount of bail.
- The bondsman hand-delivers the bail bond to the jail to get the defendant released where no actual payment is ever made to the court or jail.
- If the defendant fails to appear for their court date, then the bail bonding company has 30 days (on average) to either locate them and bring them to jail or pay the full bail amount on their behalf.
No Payment Is Actually Made By the Bail Bonds Company
As you can see in the aforementioned steps of the bonding process, how bail bonds get paid is quite different than how we think they do. Every bondsman is licensed by both the local government and an insurance company. One of the licensing requirements of a bondsman is that they have to have a certain amount of capital in an escrow account. This alleviates the possibility of a default on the bond should bail become due in the case of an F.T.A. (Failure To Appear).
Much like in other financial deals across many different service-based business sectors, you are paying for the convenience and service of the bondsman’s expertise. The bonding company has the license and the money in escrow should anything unfortunate arise in the defendant’s criminal case and the full amount of bail becomes due. Granted, a person could just pay for the full amount of bail themselves, but many people don’t have that kind of money laying around. This is why a bail bond service is both a service to the general public and also a profitable business. For more information on how bail bondsmen make money, read our previous post.